Socialist Worker

Hillsborough cops amended statements ‘significantly’

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2498

A memorial to the Hillsborough disaster victims

A memorial to the Hillsborough disaster victims (Pic: Flickr/Ben Sutherland)

Coroner Sir John Goldring is continuing to sum up evidence given to fresh inquests relating to the Hillsborough football disaster.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at the Sheffield stadium in April 1989.

Sir Goldring reminded the jury that police solicitors Hammond Suddards “reviewed the written accounts of 416 officers”.

He added, “South Yorkshire Police vetted some accounts without reference to the lawyers. There were over 600 such accounts which were sent on to West Midlands Police. Around 60 of those statements were amended in some ways.”

The court heard that less than a quarter of police statements were amended. Sir Golding said there has been a suggestion that some “very important statements were changed in some ways that were significant”.

The jury was reminded of evidence given by former inspector Clive Davis. Davis had described going to a briefing given by chief superintendent Terry Wain two days after the disaster.

Davis had shared an office with Norman Bettison, a chief inspector at the time. Davis said Bettison “said he felt this was an opportunity for us to get ourselves noticed”.

Davis said Wain told the meeting “we are going to put the blame for this disaster where it belongs, on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans. We’re going to now go away and gather the evidence to show this.”

Wain denied this in court.

The coroner reminded the court about SYP’s proof of evidence submitted to the Taylor inquiry into the disaster. The original version said officers were “unexpectedly overwhelmed by several thousand spectators” who arrived “within a few minutes of the time for kick-off”.

It said the fans were “worse for drink” and “determined” to enter “at all costs”. The coroner said Wain accepted that this was “at least partially intended as a defence of South Yorkshire Police”.

He also agreed that it was “an exaggeration” and that criticisms of senior officers were not included in the submission.

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