A solicitor representing South Yorkshire Police after the Hillsborough disaster ‘made mistakes’ in the way he prepared evidence for the Taylor inquiry.
At the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters, Peter Metcalf was questioned about the process of amending police officers’ statements.
Jonathan Hough, counsel to the inquests, asked if he thought there was anything in his approach that wasn’t satisfactory.
Mr Metcalf, who worked for the force’s solicitors Hammond Suddards, said: “First, I deeply wish I hadn’t been in that position in the first place. Secondly yes, I have no doubt I made mistakes.”
The court heard Mr Metcalf had seen a letter which set out the criticisms which would be made of the police in the Taylor inquiry.
These included the failure to control the approach of fans to the turnstiles, the failure to monitor and control crowds in the terrace, the failure to station officers in the tunnel to ensure the pens did not become full, inadequate contingency plans and a lack of consideration to delaying kick-off.
Pete Weatherby, representing 22 families of the victims, asked Mr Metcalf if he used the letter ‘as some kind of checklist of areas which you were going to try and sanitise the evidence’. Mr Metcalf said that was ‘not the truth of it at all’.
Earlier in his evidence, Mr Metcalf said his firm had a ‘duty to consider these statements carefully and critically’ as they could be used in possible future civil and disciplinary proceedings against officers. He agreed with Mr Hough that he would have had in mind a ‘duty to minimise the risk that the evidence could be used effectively against the force and senior officers in later proceedings’.