A former South Yorkshire Police officer has been accused of ‘covering up the cover up’ at the new Hillsborough Disaster inquests.
Ex chief inspector David Beal was working on 15 April 1989, when 96 people died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
He said he was offended by the accusation his inability to remember conversations with fellow officers after the tragedy amounted to him ‘trying to cover up your cover-up’.
Mr Beal said he couldn’t recall conversations he’d had with chief superintendent Brian Mole, Hillsborough’s experienced match commander who was replaced by the inexperienced chief superintendent David Duckenfield, 19 days before the game.
Mr Beal said after the disaster, when he was working for Supt Mole and contributing to a South Yorkshire Police report – known as the ‘Wain report’ he did not recall Mr Mole discussing what had caused the lethal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.
Patrick Roche, representing 75 bereaved families said: “Are you seriously trying to tell this jury that you and Mr Mole never discussed what had gone wrong?”
Mr Beal replied: “I am seriously telling the jury that 25 years later I do not have recollection of conversations with Mr Mole.”
Mr Roche said: “What I suggest to you is you were one of the key figures in the cover-up.”
“I strongly object to the word ‘cover-up’,” Mr Beal said.
“I wasn’t a key figure in any cover-up. I’m sorry, but I’m offended by that, I really am.”
Mr Beal denied pretending he couldn’t remember what had happened on the day.
He was also asked if he changed the statement of Pc Michael Goddard who mentioned problems with police radios not working - something later removed.
He denied changing the statement, which was in his handwriting, and said he recorded changes made by somebody else.