The most senior surviving police chief in post on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, who was responsible for legal issues afterwards, has denied involvement in the altering of police officer statements.
Former Deputy Chief Constable Peter Hayes, who was off duty on the day of the disaster and said he had no involvement in the planning or policing of the game at which 96 fans died, was asked by then then Chief Constable, Peter Wright, to take charge of legal matters arising from the disaster.
Mr Hayes said he never had any involvement in lawyers amending police officer statements before they were sent off to West Yorkshire Police as part of their investigation into the disaster.
“I never had any direct involvement in this procedure, and by that I mean I never saw a statement in its original form, I never saw a statement having been amended,” he said.
“I have no recollection of ever speaking to an officer who was involved.”
He said the statements asked for by the lawyers originally were factual, but that then changed to ask officers for their fears, feelings and comment.
His understanding was that the statements were then reviewed to remove the non-factual evidence.
“It seemed to me to be a fairly simple process, that the lawyers had asked for non-evidential material - speculation, comment and the like - to be included, and now because of the way the statements were going to be used, which was a surprise to us, that speculation and comment, which I would sum up as non-evidential material, would have to be removed to render these statements to be in the factual evidential form that police officers usually prepare statements,” he added.
He said he thought officers would be asked to read amended statements, approve them and sign them before they were sent off .
Mr Hayes said the alternation of the statements ‘ wasn’t a covert process’.
The inquests continue.