‘Drunken fans to blame’ for Hillsborough tragedy

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‘DRUNKEN’ Liverpool fans were to blame for causing the Hillsborough disaster, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was told in the days after the tragedy.

The verdict came from an unnamed senior Merseyside police officer, according to leaked confidential Government documents.

Also at the briefing with key policy advisers was the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, the late Sir Kenneth Oxford.

According to an account of the meeting written for Mrs Thatcher, the Chief Constable said: “A key factor in causing the disaster was the fact that large numbers of Liverpool fans had turned up without tickets.

“This was getting lost in attempts to blame the police, the football authorities, etc.”

The PM was also told a senior member of Merseyside Police directly blamed supporters.

The document says: “One officer, born and bred in Liverpool, said that he was deeply ashamed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster, just as they had caused the deaths at Heysel.”

A total of 96 football fans died after a crush on overcrowded terraces at the Sheffield Wednesday ground at an FA Cup semi final in April 1989.

The official inquiry said the disaster was caused by the failure in crowd control by South Yorkshire Police.

The leaks include letters to and from 10 Downing Street and cabinet minutes.

For years the families of the victims have been calling for the release of secret government and police papers relating to the disaster, and ministers have now agreed to this.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, set up in 2009, is reviewing hundreds of documents but they are not expected to be made available to families of those who died or to the public until later this year.

Margaret Aspinall, whose teenage son James died in the Hillsborough disaster, described the comments made by the unnamed senior officer as ‘appalling’ and ‘offensive’.

“We knew things were going on behind closed doors, we’ve always known that. It doesn’t surprise me in a sense - but I’m surprised by the content,” said the Hillsborough Families Support Group chairwoman.

The documents contain no information about South Yorkshire Police’s views.

Sheila Coleman, from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: “We are really concerned that the emphasis is totally on Merseyside Police here and not on South Yorkshire Police, and that makes us very suspicious of how this information was leaked.”