South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers did a "good job" in the 1980s, according to an organisation for retired officers. The declaration came hours after an inquest jury found that 96 Liverpool football fans who died due to the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.
Rick Naylor, secretary of the South Yorkshire National Association of Retired Police Officers, posted a message on the group's website hours after the inquest results.
It said the group's members would feel "sore, angry and disheartened" by criticism of SYP in the wake of the inquests. Naylor added, "There were many examples of outstanding actions and selflessness by police officers on that tragic day.
"You did a good job."
The claim coming the day after thousands took to the streets of Liverpool to commemorate the victims added to the fury among Hillsborough survivors, families and campaigners.
"Did a good job for who?" asked Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
"Maybe they did for their masters. They certainly didn't do a good job for the public or serve our interests. To try and protect the force after the inquests' decisions is a further indication that nothing has really altered.
"The HJC calls on those senior officers who were involved in the Hillsborough scandal to lose their pensions with immediate effect."
SYP has apologised a number of times over its failings at the match. It has said less about the 27-year long cover-up that followed, where senior officers organised to try and deflect blame onto the fans.
But it is under growing pressure to be seen to take some action. So current chief constable of SYP David Crompton was suspended yesterday, Wednesday.
Crompton apologised to families of the dead in 2012 and admitted police failings. Yet police lawyers in the inquests continued to peddle the lie that fans caused the crush.
Even in a statement after the inquests SYP said police failings "had to be put into the context of other contributory factors". It did not say what these were.
Mark George QC was one of the barristers representing 22 families in the inquests. He told Socialist Worker, "It's good that Crompton has been suspended. But we're calling for him to be sacked."
Sheila agreed. "He should have been sacked," she told Socialist Worker. "The police commissioner has said he doesn't expect Crompton to come back - but he'd said he was stepping down anyway.
"The suspension is a sop to public opinion to make it look like they are doing something. When the establishment is caught out, it very quickly reorganises to try and protect its own."
Crompton had previously called those campaigning for justice over Hillsborough liars. In an email in 2012 he whined, "One thing is certain - the Hillsborough Campaign for Justice will be doing their version. In fact their version of certain events has become the truth even though it isn't!!"
The email was sent days before an independent panel reported on the Hillsborough disaster. In it Crompton talked of police preparing "amounts to the case for the defence".
The unlawful killing finding on Tuesday means the jury was sure that match commander at the time, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, was guilty of gross negligence. He could now face prosecution.
Mark said, "We think in the current climate he will be prosecuted. Whether he gets to trial or is convicted is a different matter.
"There's a different climate now where you can't hide and people are being held to account in a way that they weren’t in previous years.
"It would be hugely significant. It would be a really senior police officer being tried. We've never seen that before in our history."