Hillsborough Inquests: Sun 'The Truth' story shown to jury

Hillsborough disaster Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Sykes said he had been kicked while giving first aid to a fan

The Hillsborough inquests have been shown The Sun's controversial front page headlined "The Truth".

The story, printed four days after the tragedy, accused Liverpool fans of urinating on casualties and pickpocketing the dead.

It was shown during the evidence of former inspector Gordon Sykes, who said it recalled some of his experiences on the day of the disaster.

However, he said he never expected his recollections to appear in the press.

Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush on Hillsborough's Leppings Lane terraces at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.

The paper's front page and an excerpt from an inside page were shown on the court's TV screens, while part of the story was read out by a barrister.

Mr Sykes, who was on duty at the Leppings Lane turnstiles on the day and had earlier spoken about the area around there being "a death trap", said two of his experiences formed part of the newspaper's story.

'Jeered by fans'

He said, after the crush, he helped a young girl, who "looked dead", out of one of the terrace pens to an area at the back of the West Stand and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

He said she started breathing again but in the commotion she lost some of her clothes and her breasts became exposed, at which point he "heard somebody shouting 'throw her up here'", followed by some foul language.

He said the shouting had come from the West Stand above them.

Mr Sykes also said he was kicked while giving first aid.

The jury heard The Sun's article included a passage that said: "A gang of Liverpool fans noticed the blouse of a girl stamped to death in the crush had risen above her breast.

"As a policeman struggled in vain to revive her, they jeered, 'throw her up here'".

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Mr Sykes went on to tell the court about the aftermath of the disaster, when he gathered with other officers at the South Yorkshire force's Niagara social club, within walking distance of the stadium.

He said he spoke "in confidence" about what had happened to Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, and the then Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam, Irvine Patnick.

He said the pair were "going around talking to people, seeing if they were all right, giving them advice as to the welfare and so forth and just general chit-chat".

"I told them about the young girl I had rescued and what had been said."

'Spoke in confidence'

He told the hearing his account must have been given to the press by either Mr Patnick or Mr Middup.

"They didn't ask me if they could release it. Whoever did it, just done it on their own account."

The court heard that Mr Middup was quoted in The Sun article, published on 19 April.

The jury was told Mr Sykes was also a Police Federation representative and had attended a meeting on 19 April at which he had accepted that two parts of the story were his.

Acting for the coroner, Christina Lambert QC said the minutes of the meeting did not record Mr Sykes saying the stories had been divulged in confidence.

The former inspector said he "thought I gave it in confidence - but no, it appeared in the press, so that was it. I just accepted it".

He told the jury he would be outraged if Mr Middup was revealed as the source of the story.

Ms Lambert pointed out that there was no indication of Mr Sykes being outraged at the time.

Mr Sykes was also questioned by Michael Mansfield QC, on behalf of some of the victims' families, about what was said at the Niagara social club.

Mr Mansfield said how the disaster happened "must have been on everybody's lips" but Mr Sykes said he could not "recall anybody mentioning how it happened".

He also denied the barrister's claim that "everybody knew how it happened and the process was now going to be 'let's blame Liverpool fans'".

Referring to what happened with the young girl, Mr Mansfield also said: "This event did not occur and that you have made it up because the whole plan after the disaster was to ensure that Liverpool fans were besmirched. Do you follow the suggestion?"

Mr Sykes replied: "I refute it completely. It's an absolute nonsense."

The inquests in Warrington continue.

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