LONDON: The shocking revelations from the Hillsborough independent inquiry panel promoted apologies from host club Sheffield Wednesday, from disgraced South Yorkshire Police and from Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of The Sun whose lies exacerbated the fury and pain of relatives.
Sheffieldf Wednesday staged the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at which 96 Liverpool died and 700 were injured after a crowd crush.
A statement was issued by the club – hours ahead of the release of inquiry files – on the instructions of chairman Milan Mandaric who took over the club in 2010.
It said: “Chairman Milan Mandaric and the current board of directors have adopted a policy of complete compliance with the requests of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and on behalf of the club would like to offer our sincere condolences and an apology to all the families who have suffered as a consequence of the tragic events of 15 April, 1989.
“Sheffield Wednesday FC welcomes the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of hard work by all involved during what was, and continues to be, an extremely emotive process.
“Throughout the compilation stage, the club has worked closely with the panel and the other donating organisations to ensure that, in line with the ethos of maximum disclosure, we have been totally transparent.
“Sheffield Wednesday would also like to record its gratitude for the thoroughly dignified manner with which the Hillsborough Family Support Group and its representatives conducted themselves throughout all levels of consultation with the club.
“We can only hope that the publication of the report goes some way to providing the closure sought by all those involved.”
Further apologies followed from others involved.
David Crompton, current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, conceded that “grave errors” had been made during the disaster and offered his own apology on behalf of his force.
He said: “I think that if people are shown to have acted criminally then they should face prosecution,” he said.
The revealed documents indicate, for the first time, that South Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were amended after the disaster. Crompton accepted they also showed South Yorkshire Police (SYP) had failed the victims and families on the day of the disaster and the police lost control.
He added: “In the immediate aftermath senior officers sought to change the record of events. Disgraceful lies were told which blamed the Liverpool fans for the disaster. These actions have caused untold pain and distress for over 23 years. I am profoundly sorry for the way the force failed.”
Crompton insisted South Yorkshire Police was “a very different place in 2012” from 23 years ago.
David Whiting, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “I sincerely apologise for the shortcomings identified in the report relating to the way in which the incident was managed in the early stages.”
Sheffield City Council Chief Executive John Mothersole issued a statement in which he “sincerely apologises” for the actions of the council at the time.
Ex-Sun editor ‘misled’
Kelvin MacKenzie, the editor of The Sun when the paper ran its notorious front page story blaming fans for the Hillsborough tragedy, offered his “profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool.”
MacKenzie, who wrote the headline ‘The Truth’ on the controversial report, said in a statement: “Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline. I too was totally misled. Twenty three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium.
“I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster. As the Prime Minister has made clear these allegations were wholly untrue and were part of a concerted plot by police officers to discredit the supporters thereby shifting the blame for the tragedy from themselves.
“It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth. I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.”
Trevor Hicks, who chairs the Hillsborough Family Support Group, rejected Mr MacKenzie’s apology as “too little, too late”, calling him “lowlife, clever lowlife, but lowlife”.
White’s, the Sheffield news agency, said in a statement: “Several reporters from this agency had some involvement in covering the Hillsborough tragedy and the aftermath.
“In common with many other journalists, reporters from this agency spoke to the then Sheffield Hallam MP Irvine Patnick. A senior reporter, who has since died, and with long-standing police connections, also spoke to senior officers.
“As result, as a responsible and reputable agency, we did report the allegations to all the national newspapers and media outlets.
“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 the allegations in a different way. We welcome the publication of all documents relating to the Hillsborough tragedy and hope it brings some measure of closure for those affected. We have no further comment to make.”
Responding to the Hillsborough report, The Sun’s current Editor, Dominic Mohan, said: “Twenty-three years ago The Sun newspaper made a terrible mistake. We published an inaccurate and offensive story about the events at Hillsborough. We said it was the truth – it wasn’t.”
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