Hillsborough Wikipedia posts were 'sickening', Cabinet Office says

Margaret Aspinall, Hillsborough Support Group: "What an utter disgrace"

The government has launched a full inquiry into who was behind "sickening" changes to a Wikipedia page about the Hillsborough disaster that were made from Whitehall computers.

The Liverpool Echo reported that computers on a secure government network were used to make the edits.

A statement said such behaviour would be "in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code".

It added there was no reason to suspect a "particular department" was involved.

'Exhausting every option'

The Cabinet Office statement said an investigation, led by Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton, had begun.

It said "important stakeholders" including the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Hillsborough Disaster would be kept updated of developments.

How the source was uncovered

Liverpool Echo front page
  • Wikipedia allows any web user to make changes to its pages, but this leaves a trace through the user's internet protocol (IP) address
  • Changes are monitored by Wikipedia, but internet trolls have been known to post insulting material, which is usually swiftly removed
  • Liverpool Echo reporter Oliver Duggan discovered that insults posted on the website's Hillsborough Disaster page had been made using computers within the government's internal intranet
  • He confirmed this after referring to a list of 34 IP addresses used by the government released by former minister Angela Eagle in 2008

It states: "The amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code. It is entirely unacceptable.

"At this time, we have no reason to suspect that the Hillsborough edits involve any particular department, nor more than one or two individuals in 2009 and 2012.

"As the first incident happened five years ago and there are hundreds of thousands of people on the government's network, it may prove challenging to identify who was involved, but we are exhausting every option."

The spokesman said that Andy Burnham MP, who "has a deserved status as an expert on the disaster", would be given the chance to "view all relevant material from the very outset so that he can assure himself all steps have been taken".

Mr Burnham said it was "sickening and appalling to think that people in government are aiming this kind of abuse at the Liverpool supporters - particularly the victims and survivors of that tragedy".

He said that "a full and proper inquiry [to] find the name of the individual or individuals responsible" needed to happen, adding that they must then be "held accountable - nothing else will do".

While Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Burnham was instrumental in a campaign to have classified documents about the disaster released, which led to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Oliver Duggan, the Liverpool Echo reporter who broke the story, said the paper used a list of 34 IP addresses for Whitehall computers, released in 2008 by Angela Eagle MP following a parliamentary question to "match up" the addresses with those used to edit the Wikipedia page about the disaster.

The newspaper said the alterations to the page included the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone being altered to You'll Never Walk Again and the phrase "Blame Liverpool Fans" being added to a paragraph.

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Wikipedia edit for Hillsborough disaster page on 15 April 2009 A Wikipedia edit on the 20th anniversary of the disaster added the words 'Blame Liverpool Fans'
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'Appalled by vandalism'

Steve Rotheram, the MP for Liverpool Walton, echoed Mr Burnham's remarks and said he and a group of Merseyside MPs would be writing to the government to ask that any inquiry "be swift".

"It's complex in its nature, but they need to put the resources in to find out who this individual or individuals are."

Sheila Coleman, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said the group would be talking to its legal team about "how to proceed".

Ms Eagle, the MP for Wallasey, said the claims were "pretty shocking" and were "another problem for [the families] having to deal with the grief".

Entries in Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, can be edited by anyone with access to the internet.

Jon Davies, chief executive of Wikimedia UK, said it was "appalled by such vandalism".

Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died after a crush at an FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield ground on 15 April 1989.

New inquests, which are ongoing, were ordered after new evidence revealed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel led to the original inquest verdicts being quashed.

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Min. Night 7 °C

BBC Local Live

    18:00: Good night

    That's all from Local Live today. We'll be back at 08:00 tomorrow to give you the day's news, sport, travel and weather updates.

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    17:53: Coming up Annabel Tiffin Presenter, North West Tonight

    A Liverpool man on the National Crime Agency's most wanted list has been caught after flying into the country in a light aircraft.

    We will also be covering the £12.7m budget cuts Merseyside Police is facing next year on North West Tonight.

    17:47: Cloudy with rain

    It will be cloudy with rain continuing, mainly affecting western facing hills, BBC Weather reports.

    BBC Weather forecast

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    17:39: Church 'unaware' of old tree protection Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    A church in Liverpool which cut down two ancient yew trees protected by preservation orders says it was "unaware" orders were in place.

    St James' Methodist United Reformed Church in Woolton, Liverpool,

    St James' Methodist United Reformed Church in Woolton, Liverpool, cut down the trees on Monday.

    The church could face prosecution for illegally destroying them.

    17:32: Budget cut blues

    Cheshire Police tweets: Our @CheshirePolCC talking to @BBCNWT about budget plans for the constabulary. 6.30pm tonight.

    Cheshire Police interview
    17:25: PC 'pressured' over disaster account Tom Mullen BBC News Online

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    The Hillsborough disaster

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    He said he recalled how officers were "hounded out" and their lives made a "misery" until they retired.

    But his original statement was finally sent to a public inquiry.

    17:17: Fugitive in light aircraft arrest Tom Airey BBC News

    One of the UK's most wanted fugitives has been arrested while attempting to return to Britain in a light aircraft.

    Paul John Scott, from Liverpool, was arrested at East Winch Airfield, Norfolk on Tuesday.

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    He was remanded in custody to appear at Liverpool Crown Court on 2 January.

    17:08: Strong winds slows M6

    BBC Travel reports the matrix sign is set to 50mph on the M6 at the Thelwall Viaduct between junction 20 the Lymm Interchange and junction 21 Woolston, because of strong winds.

    17:00: Fugitive in light aircraft arrest Tom Airey BBC News

    Here is more on one of the UK's most wanted fugitives being arrested while attempting to return to Britain in a light aircraft.

    Paul John Scott, 32, from Liverpool, is a suspected member of a drug-smuggling gang.

    Fugitive tried light aircraft return
    16:35: Hillsborough inquests extended Ben Schofield BBC Radio Merseyside

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    Lord Justice John Goldring said the evidence is not due to end until 6 November 2015.

    The inquests into the deaths of 96 fans who died as a result of a crush at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest in 1989 were due to end this year.

    16:22: Airport's wrapping warning

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    The airport said this will avoid long queues when security guards inspect hand luggage.

    16:12: Tomfoolery in Chester Paul Burnell BBC News

    Chester hands the city back to the Romans later as soldiers from the Deva Victrix 20th Legion celebrate the Roman Saturnalia festival.

    Saturnalia in Chester 2013

    The parade begins at 18:30 from the Grosvenor Museum where torches are lit and the Emperor makes a proclamation before releasing the Lord of Misrule.

    Cheshire West Council tell me Saturnalia was the most popular Roman festival which was marked by "tomfoolery and the reversal of roles with slaves and masters switching places."

    16:00: News on the hour Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Local councils across Merseyside and Cheshire are facing a funding cut of 1.8% in the next financial year.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    15:50: Waterfront vista Paul Burnell BBC News

    From the other side of the River Mersey comes this wonderful shot of Liverpool's waterfront.

    Liverpool Waterfront

    Call me an old romantic but you could almost believe it was New York's Hudson River.

    Many thanks to Wirralcam.com for this shot.

    15:38: Rudolph on the rails

    Virgin Trains Liverpool tweets: Traveling with us today on our 13:47 to Euston than you'll be travelling on #Traindeer.

    Traindeer in Liverpool Lime Street
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    A St. Helens pet owner has new hope after her miracle cat made the finals of competition to find the nation's most remarkable survivor.

    15:21: Protected yew trees investigation Tom Mullen BBC News Online

    A church could face prosecution for illegally destroying two ancient yew trees protected by preservation orders.

    St James Methodist Church, Woolton

    St James' Methodist United Reformed Church in Woolton, Liverpool, cut down the trees on Monday.

    But a concerned resident contacted Liverpool City Council, who confirmed the trees were subject to tree preservation orders.

    15:11: Picton drunks beware Paul Burnell BBC News

    News that Southport is to have its own "alcohol recovery centre" for those who have one too many in the festive season made me think of this landmark in Wavertree.

    Picton lock-up

    According to the Wavertree Historical Society, the Picton lock-up was built in 1796 for the accommodation of drunks and other prisoners overnight.

    By 1845, the village' first police station made it redundant so it was used for other things, including as a home for cholera victims and temporary housing for Irish families who fled the potato famine. In 1952, it became a listed building.

    15:00: News on the hour Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    A former South Yorkshire police officer says he feared he would be hounded out of the force if he did not accept changes to his statement about the Hillsborough disaster.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    14:52: Knocking spots off a record Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    The world record for most people dressed as Dalmatians has been broken at North Liverpool Academy.

    Dalmations record bid

    All 454 broke into 'ap-paws' at the end.

    14:42: Marine 'can keep no relegation record'

    Marine FC say manager Carl Macauley is the man to get them out of trouble and "retain our proud record" of never being relegated in their 120-year history.

    Marine's Arriva Stadium

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    "Carl is our manager and whilst his objectives have changed as the season has progressed, he is the person that we want to be at the helm for a long time to come."

    14:32: Hillsborough inquests latest Ben Schofield BBC Radio Merseyside

    A former South Yorkshire PC was put under "severe pressure" to accept changes to his statement about the Hillsborough disaster, the inquests have heard.

    The jury was told the deletions to Michael Walpole's statement were a "mixed bag", including comments critical of both Liverpool fans and the police operation.

    Mr Walpole said he recalled how officers were "hounded out" of their jobs and their lives were made a "misery" until they retired.

    But an unamended version of his statement was eventually put forward to a public inquiry into the disaster.

    14:25: Degrees of excellence

    Liverpool Hope University has recorded its highest ever research rating with more than a third of its research considered "world leading" or "internationally excellent".

    Liverpool Hope University

    The university's rating is included in the national 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which examines every academic institution in the country.

    Vice Chancellor and Rector of Liverpool Hope University Professor Gerald Pillay said: "We are attracting the best researchers from around the world, and their work is making an impact locally, nationally and internationally."

    14:11: On air Billy Butler BBC Radio Merseyside

    Hear the 12 Plays of Christmas from the Philharmonic after 15:15 as I visited their rehearsals for Rudolph on Hope Street last night.

    Philharmonic rehearsals

    Listen live on BBC Radio Merseyside.

    14:00: News on the hour Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    A senior Liverpool doctor has said the extreme pressure on A&E departments will only get worse as we go deeper into winter.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    13:47: Hut Group's Warrington shelter Warrington Guardian

    Online giants The Hut Group have finally been confirmed as the latest big name to move to Omega in a £47.5m deal.

    13:34: Sterling 'should stay a Red' BBC Radio 5 live

    Former Liverpool winger John Barnes has told 5 live Breakfast Raheem Sterling should stay at the Reds for the next few years in order to develop his career.

    Raheem Sterling

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    He said it was "equally important for Raheem Sterling to stay at Liverpool as it is for Liverpool to keep him".

    13:22: Coming up Annabel Tiffin Presenter, North West Tonight

    On North West Today we will be looking at the cuts facing the region's police forces.

    There will be the latest from the Hillsborough inquests.

    And we explain why a Liverpool church is facing prosecution for chopping down trees.

    Listen live.

    13:10: Church illegally chops down trees Tom Mullen BBC News

    A Liverpool church could face prosecution for illegally destroying two ancient yew trees protected by preservation orders.

    Yew trees

    St James' Methodist United Reformed Church in Woolton cut down the trees on Monday. But a concerned resident contacted Liverpool City Council, who confirmed the trees were subject to Tree Preservation Orders.

    The council has launched an investigation and a spokesman confirmed the church could be prosecuted, or forced to replace the trees.

    12:57: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseyside's chief constable has admitted some police forces may have to merge together to cope with the continuing loss of funding.

    Listen live.

    12:43: 'Incredible' Naismith news BBC Sport

    Everton boss Roberto Martinez says he's very happy Steven Naismith has signed a new contract.

    Steven Naismith

    Martinez told the press ahead of the Toffees' game against Southampton at the weekend that the Scottish striker was "in the best moment of his career".

    "He is only going to get better. It is incredible news for us," he said.

    12:32: Safety breach costs firm £180,000 Emma Stanley BBC News

    An Ellesmere Port firm has pleaded guilty to a breach of Health and Safety laws at Liverpool Crown Court over the death of a worker.

    Ian Aliski, 29, was using a forklift at Recresco Ltd's glass recycling plant when it overturned over and fatally crushed him on 26 April 2010.

    The firm was fined £180,000 over the incident and has since started using alternative vehicles, suitable for all terrains.

    12:22: Howard's way BBC Sport

    Goalkeeper Tim Howard has told BBC Breakfast how he has been able to forge a successful career, despite suffering from Tourette's syndrome.


    "Growing up as a young kid in New Jersey, I started having these tics and twitches. They didn't know what it was but I went to the doctor and they found out it was Tourette's syndrome," he said.

    "Since then I have been able to cope with it. I have the ability to concentrate on something else - the environment, the ball, the crowd, other players - which means I don't concentrate on the tics."

    12:10: Promiscuous dormice wanted

    A decade-long study by Chester Zoo and Natural Resources Wales has found promiscuous female dormice are good for the species.


    The study in Denbighshire found dormice which have offspring with more than one father in the same litter can help ensure their survival.

    It also found some dormice breed before they are one year old and others produce two litters in a year, which was known behaviour in continental European mice but had never been observed in the UK before.

    12:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    The organisation which represents police officers on Merseyside says proposed cuts to the service could impact on how they're able to fight gun and gang crime.

    Peter Singleton, the chairman of Merseyside's Police Federation, says the £12.7m budget cut could seriously affect their ability to take weapons off the streets.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    11:52: Roman roots recalled Simon Moffatt Reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

    Chester will celebrate its ancient past tonight for Saturnalia, a midwinter festival which celebrates Saturn, the god of plenty, wealth and agriculture.

    Roman soldier from Chester

    A parade of Roman soldiers will be marching through the streets this evening to mark the occasion.

    I met one of the legionaries but unfortunately he could not answer my question - what have the Romans ever done for us?

    11:41: Putting the brakes on scramblers

    Merseyside Police has issued helicopter CCTV highlighting the dangers of nuisance scrambler bikes can cause.

    Merseyside Police helicopter footage

    Concerns have been raised in the Croxteth, West Derby and Fazakerley areas about large groups of bikes gathering in parks and being ridden dangerously across parts of Merseyside.

    Ch Insp Jenny Sims said: "Anti-social use of the bikes blights many communities and is something people consistently tell us they are worried about."

    11:31: Cruella record attempt

    BBC Radio Merseyside tweets: Good luck to @NorthLivAcademy trying to break the world record for the number of people dressed as dalmations! The current record's 450.

    11:22: 'Sub-optimal care' apology St Helens The Reporter

    A top doctor at Whiston Hospital issued an unreserved apology to the family of a St. Helens grandmother at an inquest yesterday.

    Dr Julia Hendry admitted that Nora Peters, 74, who was erroneously administered an oxygen-driven nebuliser in the days before she died, had been given "sub-optimal care".

    11:11: Wanted arrested

    Thirty-three people have been arrested on the first day of an operation by Cheshire Police targeting people wanted by police and the courts.

    Operation Hatay is aimed at those who have either failed to appear at court or are wanted by officers for a range of offences from burglary to arson.

    Supt Pete Crowcroft said: "Force operations sent a dozen officers into Merseyside and beyond to knock early and loud on doors while staff from our neighbourhood teams concentrated on Cheshire based offenders."

    11:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy is warning a further 400 officers could be cut from the force as the government slashes its budget.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    10:51: King of the oche

    St. Helens arrows ace Stephen Bunting has one New Year's resolution - to become the undisputed darts champion of the world.

    Stephen Bunting

    Bunting could become the first player to hold both the Professional Darts Corporation and the British Darts Organisation world titles.

    10:42: What a dummy Warrington Guardian

    A bungling thief thought he had made off with a top-of-the-range Apple iPhone from Vodafone in the Golden Square - only to find he had taken a replica.

    10:33: Firm sentenced over forklift death Emma Stanley BBC News

    An Ellesmere Port recycling company has been fined £180,000 after a worker was killed on his first day at work when the forklift truck he was driving overturned.

    The overturned forklift

    Ian Aliski, 29, from Ellesmere Port, was using the forklift at Recresco Ltd's glass recycling plant in Manisty Wharf on North Road on 26 April 2010 when the vehicle overturned, crushing him to death.

    10:19: Lorry blocks city street

    BBC Travel reports a broken down lorry is partially blocking North John Street between Lord Street and Victoria Street in Liverpool.

    10:12: Woman hurt in hit-and-run

    A 51-year-old woman suffered a broken collar bone when she was knocked down by a car in a hit-and-run crash in Dingle Mount on Wednesday.

    Dingle Mount

    Merseyside Police said she was hit shortly after 18:30 GMT as she crossed Dingle Mount at its junction with South Hill Road and Beloe Street.

    Police have appealed for witnesses.

    10:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    The government has announced it intends to slash a further £12.7m from Merseyside Police's budget.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    09:44: Safe pair of hands Paul Burnell BBC News

    You never who you are going to bump into at the BBC... and boy, is Tim Howard tall!

    He's the best known American goalkeeper since Escape To Victory's Hatch - aka Sylvester Stallone.

    Tim Howard

    Everton's keeper was being interviewed about his new book, which charts life at Goodison Park alongside his heroics for Team USA in Brazil at the World Cup earlier this year.

    I bet part of him pines for the Copacabana every time he steps onto the training ground at Finch Farm at this time of year.

    09:30: Better the Neville you know BBC Sport

    The Metro reports that more Liverpool fans voted for ex-Manchester United right-back Gary Neville than former Reds defender Jamie Carragher in a poll to discover their favourite pundit.

    Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville
    09:19: Please look after this newsreader

    BBC Radio Merseyside's bulletins presenter Giulia Bould was into Paddington long before the movie, as her Christmas Throwback Thursday picture shows.

    Giulia Bould

    She refuses to comment on rumours that station bosses first discovered her at the left luggage at Lime Street station.

    09:10: Supermarket sneak Liverpool Echo

    Burglars raided Bootle Asda after climbing over a fence and sneaking into the store's cash office.

    09:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner says a further 400 officers could be cut as the Government slashes almost £13m from the force's budget.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    08:44: Police cuts warning

    The government intends to slash a further £12.7m from Merseyside Police's budget.

    Home Secretary Theresa May has proposed to reduce the core funding given to forces across the country by just over 5% in her provisional police grant report for the next financial year.

    Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has warned it could see more bobbies on the beat removed from the streets.

    08:33: Reds through to semi-finals

    Liverpool set up a League Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea as Raheem Sterling (pictured) scored twice to see off Championship leaders Bournemouth.

    Raheem Sterling
    08:21: Rush hour congestion

    BBC Travel reports queuing traffic on the A5300 Knowsley Expressway between M62 J6 and A562.

    08:10: Wet and windy

    A wet and windy day with some heavy and persistent rain likely across some western slopes.

    Weather graphic

    The rain may be more intermittent elsewhere, but it will remain cloudy for all. Strong and gusty westerly winds.

    08:01: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    The government has announced it intends to slash a further £12.7m pounds from Merseyside Police's budget.

    The head of the force is warning the public could be at risk.

    Listen to the bulletin.

    08:00: Good morning Paul Burnell BBC News

    Shaking off the man flu, I'm here to bring the latest news, sport, weather and travel but I need your help so please get in touch by email, Facebook or Twitter.



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