Hillsborough disaster: Sheffield press agency was the source of claims

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SHEFFIELD press agency White’s was the source of false allegations circulated to the media that Liverpool fans were drunk, violent and stole from the dead at Hillsborough.

But the agency yesterday stressed it reported in good faith conversations with senior police and then Sheffield Hallam MP Irvine Patnick - which the Hillsborough Panel found had been part of a plot of lies.

In a statement, White’s said: “In common with many other journalists, reporters from this agency spoke to Irvine Patnick. A senior reporter, who has since died, with long-standing police connections, also spoke to senior officers. As a result we did report the allegations to the national papers and media.”

The Sun’s subsequent front page, headlined ‘The Truth’, caused revulsion in Liverpool. But White’s said: “The agency had no control over how the allegations were presented, and were shocked by the way the story was presented by The Sun. Other newspapers reported in a different way.”

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who wrote the headline, yesterday offered ‘profuse apologies’. He said he had been ‘totally misled’.

His apology was rejected by Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, whose daughters died. He said it was ‘too little, too late’ and Mr MacKenzie was ‘lowlife’.

Sir Irvine said nothing as he left his home in Sheffield yesterday. Bassetlaw MP John Mann led calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood.