A former chief superintendent has admitted that police presented a report referring to Liverpool fans as drunk “animals” in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.
Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at Sheffield’s Hillsborough football stadium on 15 April 1989.
Terry Wain was a chief superintendent with South Yorkshire Police (SYP) at the time. He began giving evidence to inquests into their deaths on Monday of this week.
Jonathan Hough QC asked Wain about evidence given by former inspector Clive Davis. Davis said Wain led a meeting of officers on 17 April.
Hough said Davis described Wain “declaring an intention to place the blame for the disaster on drunken and ticketless Liverpool supporters”. Wain denied that.
Wain was responsible for overseeing the preparation of a SYP submission of evidence to the Taylor inquiry into the disaster. A draft of the submission was given to SYP solicitors Hammond Suddards before being submitted to the Taylor inquiry.
Wain confirmed that self-written accounts from police had not been gathered by 26 April. He briefed officers at a meeting at 9am that day and said the aim was to “seek only objective facts for the benefit of the force as a whole”.
Under questioning he agreed that the submission included a “defence of senior officers” and involved “some degree of exaggeration”.
The report said, “Sergeant Burns described some of the fans as behaving like animals.”
Wain agreed that many comments stressed the influence of alcohol on the crowd. He agreed that some parts of the report went “further than purely stating fact”. Wain told the court, “All I did was to reflect what was in the statements.”
He said he was aware that some statements included criticisms of other officers but could not explain why these did not end up in the submission.
Wain said that he later learned that some evidence was amended “by another team under the direction of South Yorkshire Police”.
The court heard that SYP solicitors vetted and amended officers’ accounts and the submission before it was sent to Lord Justice Taylor. Wain said this “didn’t cause me any concern”.
Wain and other officers met with SYP solicitors at 2.05pm on 26 April. Officers were given proformas that were later amended.
Wain said he thought they were amended following the meeting with solicitors. The amendments asked officers to include the mood of the fans, the actions of stewards, radio communications, and their “fears, feelings and observations”.
Wain accepted that there was a concern on behalf of the force to gather evidence about “fans’ behaviour”.
At the meeting Wain referred to a bundle of evidence. He said, “We should be able to validate it given time.”
Peter Wilcock QC said, “It rather looks from that contribution that you had a conclusion which you expected to get evidence to validate.” Wain denied that.
Wain said “most of” the information gathered went into his report. Wilcock asked, “What didn’t?” Wain replied, “I have no idea.” Wilcock said there was no reference to a practice of police blocking the tunnel to pens 3 and 4 at Hillsborough.
The submission given to Lord Justice Taylor did not include information about events after 12 noon on the day of the disaster.
The inquests continue.