Socialist Worker

Hillsborough inquests hear how cops 'diverted blame onto victims'

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2426

Memorial to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster

Memorial to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster


Inquests are continuing into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans who died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Police woman Fiona Nicol was on duty at the Leppings Lane end of the ground on the day of the disaster. She told jurors last week that senior officers tried to make Liverpool fans and junior officers “scapegoats” for the disaster.

She said she thought senior officers “tried to divert the blame for what happened on officers on the ground and on the fans”.

Nicol described how one senior officer “encouraged” her to change her statement about the day so she didn’t describe pens 3 and 4 as “full”.

Liverpool fan Valerie Yates described her treatment by police after surviving the crush. She was interviewed by West Midlands Police officers, who were investigating South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the day.

She said officers asked her whether she had a ticket or had been drinking “so many times it was unreal”.

Nightmare

“They actually wanted to confiscate my ticket,” she told the jury. “They said they wanted it for evidence. I point blank refused. I said, ‘I know what your game is – you’re not pinning this on us’.”

Liverpool fan Clarence Raymond Ellis-Jones also gave evidence last week. He said he saw police officers laughing and joking on the pitch as fans were collapsed following the crush.

“They were laughing,” he said. “And I thought I was in a nightmare. I just couldn’t credit it.”

Liverpool fan Robert Wylie described how some officers ignored fans trapped in the crush who were pleading for help.

“It was almost as if nobody had said anything to them,” he told the inquests. “They just sort of stood there.”

Liverpool fan Andrew Blair said he was “mildly critical” of supporters who joined a crowd outside the Leppings Lane at 2.50pm. He said they should have looked at the number of people and realised that those at the front could be in “horrible discomfort”.

Under questioning he later accepted that these fans were no different to him when he joined the crowd earlier.

Disaster

Liverpool fan and off-duty police officer Stephen Allen was also at the game on the day of the disaster. He said police looking into the pens where fans died ignored him and that one senior officer told him to “Fuck off”.

He told the jury that fans weren’t to blame for the disaster. “In my view, the disaster at Hillsborough was not caused by the fans arriving late,” he said.

“The problem was a lack of turnstiles and fans couldn’t get in. All that needed to happen was for the match to be delayed.

“The deflection of blame onto those that died and supporters is what I find very difficult to deal with, having been there myself.”

Dolores Steele, whose 15 year old son Philip died in the disaster, gave evidence on Wednesday of last week. She said it was “unforgiveable” that blood samples were taken from Philip to test for alcohol.

Dolores described how police questioned her husband in the wake of Philip’s death. “He was just a zombie when he walked out of that room,” she told the jury.

“And his words to me were, ‘they have grilled me in there for over an hour and I know what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the fans were all drunk.’”

The inquests continue.


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.