Monday 29 December 2014

Ex-officer stands by Hillsborough 'drunk fans' claim

Kim Pilling

Published 28/08/2014 | 02:30

Floral tributes were left at Hillsborough and Anfield to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster
Floral tributes were left at Hillsborough and Anfield to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster
Fans hold up scarves during a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool

A FORMER police officer has denied he vastly exaggerated the behaviour of Liverpool fans after a police chief told him "drunken, ticketless" supporters were to blame for the Hillsborough disaster.

Five days after the 1989 tragedy an assistant chief constable spoke to officers at a South Yorkshire Police station and told them fans had caused the crush outside the ground which led to an exit gate being opened and a rush of spectators into the ground to cause the fatal crush on the terraces, an inquest jury heard.

Colin Lomas, then a police sergeant, said assistant constable Stuart Anderson instructed them to include details which reflected that but to leave out any references to police radios not working on the day and staffing levels at the turnstiles to the Leppings Lane terrace, where 96 fans died.

Mr Lomas told the inquest sitting in Warrington that he had never seen so much alcohol consumed at a football match with the "vast majority" of 15,000 Liverpool fans he saw being the "worse for drink", with some carrying six-packs of beer, bottles of cider and even carafes of wine.

But he accepted he had seen no drink-related trouble on the day of the match and no arrests were made. Brenda Campbell, representing some of the families of the bereaved, took Mr Lomas, who was on patrol duty outside Hillsborough, through a selection of video footage and photographs taken on the day.

None of the visual evidence, which included locations near to where he was positioned, showed anyone obviously drunk or carrying alcohol, he agreed.

Footage

The now retired officer had also mentioned in his 1989 account that the flow of fans was away from the ground until 2.30pm when "like the flick of a switch" it moved in the opposite direction.

Again footage showed in court did not support that comment, Miss Campbell said.

Mr Lomas agreed that South Yorkshire Police in the 1980s was a "regimented, almost military" organisation and said it was "ruled by an iron fist".

The jury heard that the visit from a senior officer such as Mr Anderson five days after the tragedy was unprecedented.

The inquest continues.

Irish Independent

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