Civil servant sacked over Hillsborough slurs on Wikipedia

Fans try to escape the crowded pens during the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.
Fans try to escape the crowded pens during the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.
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A civil servant who posted offensive comments about the Hillsborough disaster on Wikipedia from a government computer has been sacked for gross misconduct.

The man used the site to mock the victims of the 1989 tragedy in Sheffield, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Writing while working as an administrative officer, the man who lives in the Merseyside area edited the phrase ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, to read: “You’ll never walk again”.

Other changes were made to the page in 2012 by the junior administrator, who has not been named.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said today: “The Government has treated this matter with the utmost seriousness.

“Our position from the very start has been that the amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening.

“The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code, and every canon of civilised conduct. It is entirely unacceptable.”

Enquiries were also made to similar amendments made in 2009 on the Hillsborough Wikipedia page from government computers but it was not possible to identify who made the changes.

Mr Maude said: “These incidents have given rise to questions about the Government Secure Intranet, about the way in which the internet is accessed from government and its use recorded, and about social media policies in departments. “We will continue to encourage and enable civil servants to use the internet and social media, as essential tools enabling them to work openly and to be connected to the society they serve. But the misuse of

social media is unacceptable and carries consequences.

“We will be reminding all civil servants of their responsibilities and updating social media guidance.

“I would like to thank the families themselves for their patience during the weeks it has taken to bring this matter to a conclusion.

“I was deeply distressed that, at a time when the hearings of the Hillsborough Inquests were unfolding, the Civil Service was brought into disrepute by these edits.

“No one should be in any doubt of the Government’s position regarding the Hillsborough disaster and its support for the families of the 96 victims and all those affected by the tragedy.”