Sections of former detective’s Hillsborough statement deleted, jury told

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A former South Yorkshire Police detective sergeant’s criticisms of the command structure at the Hillsborough Disaster were deleted from his statement - but not by him, a court heard.

Several sections of Michael Tissington’s statement about the tragedy were deleted, the fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans heard today.

Mr Tissington was a detective sergeant at South Yorkshire Police at the time of the FA Cup Semi Final in 1989 and was based in Rotherham.

At the time of the match he was in his 32nd year of policing.

Mr Tissington said before Hillsborough, he had very little experience of policing football matches and had been a detective for almost 27 years.

During his evidence, he told the court in Warrington he was in charge of a serial of officers who dealt with minibus reception at Wardsend Road North.

Before the match his officers supervised the unloading of minibuses of Liverpool fans and checked for weapons.

They were to go to Clay Wheels Lane for refreshments after kick off and then to Leppings Lane for standby duties.

Mr Tissington said coaches started arriving from about 11.30am.

“There was no problem whatsoever, they were quite jovial,” he said.

Officers checked inside the vans for weapons but fans were quite cooperative and some were directed to a nearby pub to be served.

Just after 3pm he said officers received a message asking them to go to the Leppings Lane turnstiles.

He was led to the area immediately behind the stand and could see the central pens.

“There were a number of officers with some casualties on the ground,” he said.

“I just thought it was a fainting situation, to be honest.”

“No idea whatsoever what was going on on the terraces, none whatsoever. We’d had no instruction and we were at a loss what to do.”

Mr Tissington said he recalled a young officer coming to the entrance of the tunnel and shouting ‘get some men in here, get some men in here, we’ve got big problems, we’ve got big problems’.

Describing the area by the perimeter fence, he said: “Well, that was the most horrific scene I’ve ever seen in my life.

“There were just people piled on top of each other under the wall.”

He said it was obvious it was a ‘horrific tragedy’.

Mr Tissington told the jury he saw two police photographers taking pictures of fans at the request of the assistant chief constable.

He says he swore at one of them and told him he’d get them all ‘lynched’.

Mr Tissington said after the tragedy he made a voice recording about what had happened on the day and it was transcribed by a CID typist.

A computer print out of his statement shown to the court showed some sections had been crossed out.

One paragraph included his recollections about the police photographer.

The crossed out section states: “I’ve got to say I thought that was bloody stupid, whoever had given him that order, what the hell did he want photographs for at that time?”

Another crossed out section read: “The main topic of conversation since Saturday has been that there was no command structure, other than Chief Supt Nesbit and Supt Greenwood, and I think that has got to be looked into and some questions asked there.”

The section went on to compliment the two senior officers but the entire paragraph has been crossed out.

Mr Tissington said he had not seen the document until Operation Resolve officers came to see him.

He said: “I was never told to delete anything from my original transcript.”

Asked how he would have reacted if he had been asked to delete parts of his statement, Mr Tissington said: “I’d had a considerable number of years’ service and I don’t think I would have tolerated that in any way, shape or form.”

Another version of Mr Tissington’s statement was also shown to the court.

In that version the passages which were crossed out had been deleted.

Mr Tissington says his initials are on it.

He said he could not remember putting his initials on the document.

He said: “I am totally mystified about this. Totally.”

The hearing continues.