Hillsborough: South Yorkshire police chief apologises
- 12 September 2012
- From the section Sheffield & South Yorkshire
The chief constable of South Yorkshire has admitted "grave errors" were made during the Hillsborough disaster and has apologised "profoundly".
The apology came as an independent panel found police "sought to deflect responsibility" on to Liverpool fans.
Chief Constable David Crompton has confirmed statements were altered seeking to lessen police blame.
"I think that if people are shown to have acted criminally then they should face prosecution," he said.
Mr Crompton made his apology after previously unseen government papers about the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989 were released.
The documents indicate, for the first time, that South Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were amended after the disaster, the panel said.
The chief constable accepted they also show South Yorkshire Police (SYP) had failed the victims and families on the day of the disaster and the police lost control.
"In the immediate aftermath senior officers sought to change the record of events," Mr Crompton said.
"Disgraceful lies were told which blamed the Liverpool fans for the disaster. These actions have caused untold pain and distress for over 23 years.
"I am profoundly sorry for the way the force failed."
However, Mr Crompton said South Yorkshire Police was "a very different place in 2012" from what it was 23 years ago.
David Whiting, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: "I sincerely apologise for the shortcomings identified in the report relating to the way in which the incident was managed in the early stages. "
Sheffield City Council Chief Executive John Mothersole issued a statement in which he "sincerely apologises" for the actions of the council at the time.
Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South-East, who was at the game, said he had been "absolutely shocked" by the scale of the revelations and called for a new inquest.
"To find out that 164 statements by police officers had been subsequently changed to alter what they said, to alter descriptions of the adequacy of the response to the disaster at the time, I think is really truly shocking and there are a lot of answers that still need to be found to questions raised by these findings," he said.
"I think it's very clear that the initial inquest cannot stand."
The panel went on to say the wrongful allegations about the fans' behaviour later printed in some newspapers, particularly The Sun, originated from "a Sheffield press agency, senior SYP officers, an SYP Police Federation spokesperson and a local MP".
The panel said the Police Federation, "supported informally by the SYP Chief Constable", sought to develop and publicise a version of events derived in police officers' allegations of drunkenness, ticketless fans and violence.
"The vast majority of fans on the pitch assisted in rescuing and evaluating the injured and the dead," the panel said.
In a statement Sheffield Wednesday FC, whose ground hosted the fateful match, offered "sincere condolences and an apology" to all the families who suffered as a "consequence of the tragic events".