Hillsborough: Civil servant sacked for Wikipedia slurs

Margaret Aspinall said she found the civil servant's actions "very sad"

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A civil servant who posted offensive comments about the Hillsborough disaster on Wikipedia while at work has been sacked.

The man, who lives on Merseyside, used the online encyclopaedia to mock the victims of the 1989 Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final.

An inquiry was launched in April when it emerged Whitehall computers were used to make the disparaging entries.

The edits included the phrase "Blame Liverpool fans".

The 24-year-old junior administrator, who was born in London but lives in Liverpool, has been dismissed for gross misconduct.

His sacking follows an investigation by The Daily Telegraph which identified him through his internet activity.

The man altered the Wikipedia page for Hillsborough in 2012, including one entry that parodied the Liverpool fans' anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" by changing it to "You'll Never Walk Again".

'Unacceptable conduct'

A Commons statement from Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude said: "I was deeply distressed that, at a time when the hearings of the Hillsborough inquests were unfolding, the Civil Service was brought into disrepute by these edits.

Who were the 96 victims?

Eight of the Hillsborough victims, CW from top left: Paul Clark, Stephen Copoc, Tracey Cox, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, Steven Fox, Vincent Fitzsimmons, Christopher Edwards

"Our position from the very start has been that the amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service code and every canon of civilised conduct. It is entirely unacceptable."

The department had feared the length of time since the amendments, which were made in 2009 and 2012, would make it impossible to identify those responsible.

However, Mr Maude said the investigation had not been able to identify the culprit of the 2009 Wikipedia edits, owing to technical obstacles.

The minister praised the contribution of journalist Oliver Duggan who broke the story for the Liverpool Echo on 25 April and passed on his research to the Cabinet Office.

'No empathy'

"That information has proved extremely helpful and provided a significant investigative lead," he said.

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the families had agreed that the perpetrator's name should not be made public.

"Social media can be very unpleasant. He has been punished and, as far as we are concerned, that is the end of it," she added.

Barry Devonside, who lost his 18-year-old son Christopher in the tragedy, said: "He got what he deserved.

"He clearly had his own reason for doing it but he they were far, far removed from anything thinking individual who has got a perspective or empathy for those that were killed at Hillsborough.

"I suppose given the fact that he worked and lived in Liverpool he should have had an understanding. I would have expected a youngster to have understood what Hillsborough was about but clearly he had a different agenda."

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