Police forced Hillsborough survivors to alter evidence

Mick Meaney, rinf.com |

Fresh allegations of a police conspiracy have come to the surface providing more evidence for a cover-up surrounding the horrific events at Hillsborough, with survivors claiming they were  intimidated by officers, forcing them to change their statements.

West Midlands police had apparently subjected survivors to intense interviews that lasted up to five hours, insisting they change statements to remove any blame directed towards police.

According to Labour MP Maria Eagle, police told one survivor “You can’t say that, you’ve got to say this.”

A report in the The Guardian states that a victims mother, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died at Hillsborough, had said:

“This shows they were prepared to stop at nothing. To bully the people they were meant to protect at a time when they were so traumatised is a disgrace. People will rightly ask how could this have happened?”

Read the full story.

Maria Eagle has also accused a former chief inspector, Sir Norman Bettison, of South Yorkshire police, of being involved in a black propaganda campaign.

In a letter that was sent to a solicitor for the Hillsborough Family Support Group in 1998, John Barry, who attended business school with Norman Bettison – a middle-ranking police officer at the time, wrote:

“Some weeks after the game, and after I had been interviewed by West Midlands police, we were in a pub after our weekly evening class.

“He told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry.

“He said that ‘we are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them’.”

Ms Eagle said:

“Here we have an account of a contemporaneous conversation in which Norman Bettison boasted he is engaged in a South Yorkshire police plot to fit up the Liverpool fans and deflect blame from the force.

“That is indeed what happened subsequently, so what Sir Norman denies in public he boasts about in private conversations.”

On 12 September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel  concluded that police made a:

“Strenuous attempt” to deflect blame for the disaster from themselves onto Liverpool supporters.

It also found that 164 witness statements had been amended and 116 statements that were unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police had been removed.

The actions of the police at  Hillsborough in 1989, and how they were allowed to hide the truth for over 20 years, is a despicable example of how those entrusted with the protection of citizens, can abuse their position of authority and hide the facts with impunity.