A report on the Hillisborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died in 1989 has found that up to 41 of the victims “had the potential to survive” and that the police and emergency services deflected blame onto the victims.
The report, which was compiled by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, also said that despite obvious signs of distress among fans in the two pens where people died the police did not react immediately to help those who were being crushed.
Kelvin McKenzie, then editor of The Sun which ran a front page story headlined The Truth which detailed stories of Liverpool fans urinating on the police helping the injured and robbing from bodies has apologised for his handling of the event, while British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the ‘double injustice’ the victims had to endure.
McKenzie said, “It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth.”
The report also found that the 116 of the 164 statements given to police were “amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police,” and that police attempted to “impugn the reputations” of the victims by carrying out alcohol tests on the blood of the dead and injured, including children.
Chief constable of the South Yorkshire Police offered his own apologies to families of the 96 killed.
The original inquest stated that by 3.15pm on the day of the disaster all victims were dead but today’s report says that is untrue.
Panel member Dr Bill Kirkupp said, “twenty eight people had definite evidence that they didn’t have obstruction of the bloodflow, 16 people had definite evidence of heart and lungs continuing to function for a prolonged period after the crush.
“In total 41 therefore had evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15.”
On the origins of The Sun’s reports the panel said, “the documents disclosed to the panel show that the origin of these serious allegations was a local Sheffield press agency informed by several SYP officers, an SYP Police Federation spokesperson and a local MP.
“They also demonstrate how the SYP Police Federation, supported informally by the SYP chief constable, sought to develop and publicise a version of events that focused on several police officers’ allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence among a large number of Liverpool fans. This extended beyond the media to Parliament.
“Yet, from the mass of documents, television and CCTV coverage disclosed to the panel there is no evidence to support these allegations other than a few isolated examples of aggressive or verbally abusive behaviour clearly reflecting frustration and desperation.”