Hillsborough files show 'drunken fans' were blamed

 

Relatives of Liverpool supporters killed in the Hillsborough disaster reacted angrily last night after leaked Whitehall papers disclosed that Merseyside police wrongly blamed the tragedy on drunken fans at the time.

Confidential documents relating to the tragedy, in which 96 supporters were killed when the crowd surged forward before an FA Cup semi-final in 1989, were not due to be released until the autumn. But some of the papers obtained by the BBC yesterday revealed that the former Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, was told by a senior Merseyside officer that drunken fans caused the crush.

There was anger in Liverpool after the tragedy that South Yorkshire Police, who were policing the match in Sheffield, had blamed supporters. But the papers show that officers in Merseyside shared their colleagues' opinion – and relayed it to Downing Street.

Four days after the disaster, a member of the Downing Street policy unit met senior Merseyside officers. According to a note of the meeting, an unnamed officer blamed the supporters for the chaos, likening it to the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 in which 39 Juventus fans died after being charged by Liverpool supporters.It said: "One officer, born and bred in Liverpool, said that he was deeply asham- ed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster, just as they had... at Heysel."

According to the note, Sir Kenneth Oxford, who was Merseyside Chief Constable at the time, said: "A key factor in causing the disaster was the fact that large numbers of Liverpool fans had turned up without tickets. This was getting lost sight of in attempts to blame the police, the football authorities, etc."

Sir Kenneth, who died in 1998, was also said to have expressed concern about Liverpool's ground being turned into a "shrine". The note is initialled "MT", suggesting it was read by Lady Thatcher, and the phrase "drunken Liverpool fans" has been underlined.

Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: "Those of us who were around Liverpool in the 1980s are well aware of Ken Oxford's racist and bigoted views, Presumably, he recruited senior officers with a similar mindset."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power