Socialist Worker

Cops blamed 'drunken' fans for Hillsborough football disaster

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2441

Former Police Federation secretary Paul Middup has said fans’ behaviour helped cause the Hillsborough football disaster.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of the 1989 disaster. Middup gave evidence to fresh inquests into the deaths last week.

Middup told the jury that he still believed that the behaviour of a “small minority” of fans was a “contributory cause” of the disaster.

The jury heard Middup gave several press interviews in the aftermath of the disaster.

In one he said, “I am sick of hearing how good the crowd were. They were arriving tanked up on drink. Even as our lads were giving the kiss of life to victims, they were being spat upon and pelted with coins.”

When asked if he considered that such comments may cause offence he replied, “It didn’t enter my head”. He said that “some senior officers” were happy that he was “saying something from our side”.

Middup said officers complained about the “drunken behaviour of a minority of Liverpool supporters” and claimed “a lot” of fans turned up late without tickets.

He said that an officer working in the mortuary told him that fans had urinated on the dead. “I had no reason to believe that they weren’t telling the truth,” he said. “And that’s what I repeated.”

Problems

He said the fans who died did nothing wrong “as far as we know” but that problems were caused by these other fans.

But the jury heard that around a third of those who died had entered the ground when exit gates were opened to relieve a crush outside the ground.

Middup was told that this meant “your theory of this ‘human train’ rushing in there and killing these people who had been in there for ages, the nice respectable people who haven’t been drinking and so on, goes completely out of the window”.

He accepted that it “partially” did.

Middup said there was a “funny idea” that police had “colluded together and they were all lying”.

He agreed that the minutes of a meeting four days after the disaster could make it seem that an “understanding” had been reached between him and the chief constable on how to present the disaster.

Middup was asked about another meeting on 3 October 1989, following an interim report on the disaster by Lord Justice Taylor.

Tory MP Michael Shersby attended along with chief superintendents and chief inspector Norman Bettison.

Middup said the aim was for Shersby to be “briefed” on the disaster before making a statement in the House of Commons.

The minutes show Shersby concluding that police officers feel “strongly” that the inquiry is “unsatisfactory”. His promise to “remedy it” was met with applause.

The inquests continue.


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Tue 17 Feb 2015, 15:56 GMT
Issue No. 2441
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