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Did cops alter fans’ statements after Hillsborough disaster?

This article is over 8 years, 4 months old
Fans’ families fight for justice as new evidence emerges of a police cover-up, writes Sadie Robinson
Issue 2371
A memorial to the 96 fans who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster

A memorial to the 96 fans who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster (Pic: Isriya on Flickr)

Police may have altered fans’ statements in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Deborah Glass is deputy chair of the IPCC. She said, “Analysis work by staff within the IPCC’s major incident room has identified a number of handwritten accounts from supporters which have been converted subsequently into statements as part of the West Midlands Police investigation (set up in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster).

“However our analysis has uncovered material which would suggest amendments may have been made to this evidence.”

The IPCC criminal investigation into the deaths from the disaster follows the publication of an independent report last year that exposed a police cover-up.

Some 96 Liverpool football fans died in a crush at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield.


Police failed to divert fans into empty pens and pushed them back into the crush when they tried to escape. Officers then claimed that Liverpool fans had forced their way into the ground—when in fact police had ordered a gate to be opened.

Last year’s independent report showed that nearly 200 police statements had been altered in the wake of the disaster. Some 164 of those had been substantially altered.

The IPCC last month found evidence that a further 55 police statements had been altered. It has now uncovered 19 more police statements that were allegedly doctored by superiors.

It says that this brings the total South Yorkshire Police statements that were altered to 238 because it is using the panel’s figure of 164.

South Yorkshire Police has also found 90 police pocketbooks that may contain new evidence about the disaster.

Sir Norman Bettison, one of the officers at the centre of the scandal, was criticised in the independent report. South Yorkshire Police emailed Bettison key documents relating to the report in December 2011—ten months before they were published.

The High Court quashed the original verdicts of accidental death last December. Families of the dead are still waiting for new inquests to be heard.

Back story

Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster

  • Police let fans go into full pens and pushed them back into the crush as they tried to escape 
  • Police stopped ambulances reaching dying fans who had been rescued by other fans
  • Politicians, led by Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, covered up police actions 
  • The Sun led media lies and smears against the fans

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