Hillsborough files `doctored'

RELATIVES OF the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 have asked the Home Secretary to order a new public inquiry after allegations that statements by police officers at the football stadium were "sanitised".

An analysis on behalf of the families is said to show that changes were made by police lawyers to statements given at the time by the police. The Hillsborough Families Support Group said it has uncovered about 100 significant discrepancies.

After the disaster South Yorkshire Police suggested officers write down their recollections of what had happened at the stadium in Sheffield. These informal accounts have only recently been made public. When Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the disaster began, lawyers acting for the police used the recollections as the basis of the police officers' statements.

Phil Hammond, secretary of the support group, found some evidence that would have damaged the police position had been left out. For example, a sen-tence saying: "There seemed to be a total lack of contact with police control or at least a senior officer who could have informed us as to what action was required," was deleted from one constable's original account.

The Assistant Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, Ian Daines, said yesterday the allegations of a cover-up were "ridiculous". "Every officer ...was asked to write down their recollections. These weren't formal witness statements."