Sheffield Hillsborough disaster film-maker faces court

Daniel Gordon, Sheffield film director
Daniel Gordon, Sheffield film director
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A Sheffield film-maker whose BBC TV documentary will lift the lid on the Hillsborough disaster this weekend expects to be taken to court – by police probing the same tragedy.

The two-hour ‘Hillsborough’ programme features interviews with four former South Yorkshire constables who have never publicly spoken before.

The film was broadcast months ago in America, Australia and New Zealand, but was banned from the UK for fear of prejudicing the Warrington jury which, last week, recorded ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts over the 96 victims at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

Now investigators with Operation Resolve, a criminal inquiry into the 1989 disaster, want access to all material gathered by Fulwood-based director Daniel Gordon.

They are demanding all 200 hours of film and transcripts of every comment made, even if the material came from interviewees who had declined to assist the two police inquiries.

Gordon, aged 43, said: “I recognise that the police’s remit now is to leave no stone unturned. But the interviews were conducted purely for the documentary, not to suddenly become evidence in a potential criminal prosecution. I’d have no control where the information ends up and have had to inform people who we spoke to about that situation.”

Gordon’s contract with the BBC forbids him sharing with any third party but the police will now likely force his hand by taking him to court.

“I have been warned that police will serve me with a court order to hand over everything – which is an uncomfortable feeling considering this is an investigation into the police to start with.

“It was also frustrating that we could not screen this documentary in Britain for two years while the inquest was on, the need not to influence jurors was made clear by the Attorney General.”

Gordon believes there is a ‘glibness’ in Sheffield about the disaster to this day.

“Some people still want to blame the fans because of lies told at the time and anecdotes about fans in the pubs – which only show small bits of a much bigger picture. The lies shaped people’s understanding, played to their prejudices.

“The film, with the help of three police officers and a special constable from the time, is the first full and definitive account from start to finish,” said Gordon, a lifelong Sheffield Wednesday fan.

He added: “I was well aware of the suffering of the bereaved and the survivors but I was staggered to learn first hand of the indignity endured by the families on the night of the disaster after they’d travelled to identify their loved ones.

“I hope that ‘Hillsborough’ might respond to the scurrilous myths and ill-informed assumptions that were purposefully promoted to protect the interests of those responsible.”

The programme will be aired on BBC 2 at 9pm on Sunday and premiered at the Showroom Theatre, Sheffield, this weekend.