UK Politics

Nuttall aide offers to quit over Hillsborough mistakes

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPaul Nuttall was shown the comments on his website, which he said were not accurate and not published by him

Paul Nuttall's press officer has offered to resign after saying she was to blame for "mistakes" in statements about the UKIP leader and the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Nuttall earlier admitted claims on his website that he had lost close friends in the 1989 tragedy were false.

Lynda Roughley said she was "entirely responsible" for two press releases that were posted in 2011 and 2012.

Hillsborough campaigners have accused Mr Nuttall of "insensitivity".

While he said he knew people who had died in the disaster, the MEP for the North West of England said he was "appalled" the impression had been given by the statements that he was personally close to any of the 96 victims who died in a crush at Hillsborough football stadium.

He said he did not check press releases posted by an aide on the subject suggesting as much and was "very sorry" for the oversight.

In her statement, Ms Roughley said she was "mortified" at the distress caused.

"I am entirely responsible for the website post regarding Paul's comments about having 'close friends' who died at Hillsborough," she said.

"Paul is a man of great integrity and would not say something he knew to be untrue. It's me who has made this mistake, and one I feel absolutely terrible about."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hillsborough is the worst sporting disaster in British history

A UKIP source told the BBC on Wednesday "there's no way he's (Mr Nuttall) going to accept her resignation. She's been a good and loyal servant. People make mistakes and errors happen. He's not going to throw her under a bus".

Mr Nuttall was pressed about the posts on his website during an interview with Liverpool's Radio City station on Tuesday.

In the first from August 2011, the Bootle-born politician urged the government to release files on the Hillsborough tragedy.

He was quoted as saying: "Without them being made public we will never get to the bottom of that appalling tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans including close personal friends of mine lost their lives."

In a second release published six months later, he was quoted as saying: "I lost close friends at the match and understand as well as anyone how deep the scars of that tragedy go."

During his radio interview, Mr Nuttall said those comments were inaccurate.

"I haven't lost anyone who was a close personal friend," he said. "It was people I knew through football and things like that."

Image caption The Hillsborough disaster occurred during an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest

Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman Margaret Aspinall told LBC the website errors were "an insult" to people who did lose somebody on that day.

Mr Nuttall has long said he attended the match with his father and two uncles and has described as "an absolute disgrace" suggestions raised in a Guardian article that he was not there.

He said: "As a 12-year-old boy, I travelled to Sheffield that day, as did so many others, to enjoy watching the team that I loved.

"From the upper tier of the Leppings Lane End, I watched the events of that day unfold with horror... Like everybody connected to the Hillsborough disaster, memories of 15 April 1989 bring me nothing but pain and upset."

Statements from his father and a school friend saying that Mr Nuttall was at Hillsborough - sent to the Guardian before it published its report - have now been given to the BBC.

More on this story