A former senior South Yorkshire Police officer has said he was ‘obeying orders’ as he worked on amending the Hillsborough statements of junior officers.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster gave evidence to the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.
He said he was informed the statements were being reviewed on legal advice and needed the removal of opinions and criticisms of senior officers and the police organisation.
Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquests, said: “Did it occur to you at the time that the effect of this process might be to blunt the criticism of South Yorkshire Police from its own junior ranks in the documentary record?”
Mr Foster says: “No sir, it didn’t. My job was simply to facilitate the conversion of the accounts into statement form. That was my job. I didn’t question it. I was simply obeying orders.”
Nick Brown, asking questions of behalf of 75 families of the victims, asked Mr Foster: “So, as far as you understood them, your instructions were to remove anything from these officers’ accounts which amounted to criticism of individual senior officers or of the police organisation, the police and the policing generally at Hillsborough, correct?”
Mr Foster says: “Yes they did, sir, yes.”
Mr Foster said that criticism was seen as opinion.
He says: “We didn’t really need, frankly, junior officers giving some kind of opinions about senior officers. We would expect the senior officers to do what I have done, in terms of today, to say if you have made a mistake you own up to it.
“That’s why we carry the rank that we carry.”
The hearings continue.