Hillsborough Wikipedia edits: Civil servant fired for making offensive changes

The Cabinet Minister Francis Maude confirmed the junior administrative officer has been dismissed

A junior civil servant has been fired for making offensive Wikipedia edits on a webpage about the Hillsborough disaster while at work, Francis Maude confirmed today.

The unnamed man, who lives in Merseyside, has been identified as the person behind posts made using the government intranet in 2012 and sacked for gross misconduct, the Cabinet Office minister said.

His sacking follows an investigation by the Daily Telegraph that found the 24-year-old edited the phrase “You’ll never walk alone”, the anthem of Liverpool FC, to read: “You’ll never walk again.”

The abusive edits began on the 20th anniversary of the 1989 tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Mr Maude said in a ministerial statement to MPs that the "young, junior administrative officer" was subject to a formal disciplinary investigation and subsequently dismissed.

His statement reads: “The Government has treated this matter with the utmost seriousness. Our position from the very start has been that the amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening.

 “Extensive further inquiries were taken forward as a Civil Service disciplinary matter, involving potential breaches of the Civil Service Code and of individual departments’ policies on acceptable behaviour.

“An individual was then subject to a formal disciplinary investigation and dismissed for gross misconduct, on the grounds of responsibility for the 2012 edits.”

He said the investigation had come up against “substantial technical obstacles” such as deleted internet logs that made tracing specific historic edits “extremely difficult” and it was unable to identify the source of other edits, including the edit ‘Blame Liverpool Fans’.

“In the absence of other specific leads, and despite a great deal of forensic and other work, it has not been possible to identify the originators of the 2009 edit or any of the others in question.”

Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that is free to use and can be contributed to by anyone, anywhere. It has volunteer editors monitoring the site to try and ensure only factual information is displayed across its millions of pages.

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