Hillsborough families say police spied on campaigners

Liverpool fans holding Hillsborough scarves Andrew Brookes' sister said all mail relating to Hillsborough would arrive opened

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Relatives of Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster have called on the Metropolitan Police to answer claims officers spied on them.

The call comes after Private Eye magazine had a freedom of information (FOI) request turned down by the Met.

The Met has yet to comment, but reportedly turned down the FOI request to "safeguard national security".

Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, called for police to show "transparency" and admit spying.

'Everything opened'

Private Eye asked the Met for files it held on the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the Hillsborough Family Support Group following claims Special Branch officers were involved in surveillance of the organisations.

It reported that police would neither confirm nor deny that it held any papers on the disaster.

Louise Brookes Louise Brookes believes her correspondence was opened

Both the justice campaign and the support group have been at the forefront of attempts to discover what happened at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final which saw the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.

Fresh inquests into their deaths will begin in Warrington in March after the original accidental death inquest verdicts were quashed in 2012 following an independent report.

Louise Brookes lost her brother Andrew Mark Brookes in the disaster and she alleges she has had her post intercepted or tampered with.

She said: "Everything to do with Hillsborough would arrive opened."

'Promised transparency'

Meanwhile, Ms Coleman claimed campaigners' phones were "definitely tapped".

She said: "I represented six families in 1993 and we were aware we were under surveillance.

"A lot of attempts were made to frighten us but it just went with the territory.

"It was appalling. Not so much for me but those who had been bereaved were effectively criminalised.

Start Quote

If we came across any evidence [spying] had happened we would investigate ”

End Quote Independent Police Complaints Commission

"I'm disappointed that the government acknowledged a state cover-up but the Met are still holding back."

She said families and campaigners for Hillsborough have been "promised transparency and accountability and the Met should fall into line with that".

Ninety-five victims were crushed to death in Britain's worst sporting disaster, on 15 April 1989, at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The 96th victim died in 1993 when the Law Lords ruled that doctors could stop tube-feeding and hydration.

As well as fresh inquests, there are two ongoing investigations into the disaster.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is examining police actions at and after the tragedy, while former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart is looking at the causes of the tragedy and the deaths and examining the actions of a range of organisations and bodies, including South Yorkshire Police.

The IPCC said it was not actively pursuing allegations of spying on families and campaigners.

But a spokesman said: "We are reviewing all material in relation to Hillsborough and clearly if we came across any evidence that this had happened we would investigate it whether or not we have received a complaint."

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BBC Liverpool



Min. Night 16 °C

BBC Local Live


    That's all from the Local Live team. Join us for all your news, sport, travel and weather again from 08:00 tomorrow.

    On North West Tonight 17:59: Stuart Flinders

    We'll be reporting how the latest round of bidding for fracking licences could impact the North West in the national dash for shale gas.

    The weekend's triumphant visit of the street theatre Giants to Liverpool will be recalled.

    And we will hear why the Hillsborough inquests have entered a new phase.

    Watch more on BBC One at 18:30.

    Clear overnight 17:57:

    BBC Weather reports that it will be a pleasantly warm and mostly sunny evening and it will stay dry with largely clear skies overnight.

    BBC Weather

    Patchy low cloud developing in places later in the night.

    Giants refund for rail passengers 17:52:

    Northern Rail has said passengers who bought tickets to see the Giants in Liverpool at the weekend but couldn't get on a train will get a full refund.

    The move follows complaints by some passengers there were too few trains and they faced long queues.

    A spokesman for the rail operator said it provided an additional 14,000 spaces to and from Lime Street over the three days.

    He added that passengers unable to travel are entitled to apply for their money back.

    Liverpool's greatest giant? 17:45:

    The talk this weekend might have been of the street theatre giants but other people in Liverpool had thoughts about other "real life" giants.

    Ron Yeats, the six foot two centre-half signed in 1961 by Bill Shankly for Liverpool FC, in was described as a "giant" and "a colossus".

    Ron Yeats

    Yeats was the first Liverpool skipper to lift the FA Cup.

    Shanks once said: "With him in defence, we could play Arthur Askey in goal."

    Tranmere sign defender 17:26:

    Tranmere have signed versatile defender Danny Woodards on a six-month contract.

    Danny Woodards

    Former MK Dons and Crewe man Woodards, 30, was released by Bristol Rovers after their relegation from League Two.

    More on the mega marionettes 17:13: Paul Burnell BBC News

    Those Giants are still the talk of the city in Liverpool.

    Granny giant

    We're grateful to Brian "Joe" Sobey for this shot he has just sent of Prince Albert "doffing" his hat to the sleeping grandmother.

    News on the hour 17:00: Graham Whyte BBC Radio Merseyside

    The South Yorkshire officer responsible for monitoring police CCTV during the Hillsborough disaster has admitted that the force "lost control."

    Listen to the 17:00 news headlines for more.

    Rolling road block 16:57:

    BBC Travel reports heavy queuing traffic on the eastbound M56 between junction 12 Runcorn and junction 14 the A5117 (Hapsford) due to an accident involving a car and a trailer.

    A rolling road block is in place with congestion stretching back to the M53 junction 15.

    Central pens 'not monitored' 16:37: Ben Schofield BBC News

    No-one in the police control box at Hillsborough was monitoring the central pens where 96 people were fatally crushed, the inquests into the disaster has heard.

    Police control box at Hillsborough

    Former police constable Trevor Bichard, who was the police CCTV operator, said the focus inside the control box was on the thousands of fans outside the ground.

    Asked by a barrister why it did not occur to him to consider where the fans would go if a gate was opened at the Leppings Lane end, he said he had no idea.

    Play centres' reprieve 16:20:

    Five youth and play centres in Liverpool are set to remain open after the city council reached agreement with organisations willing to run them.

    Childwall Youth Centre

    Mab Lane Youth and Play Centre; Knotty Ash Youth and Community Centre; Childwall Youth Centre (pictured); ZAP Play Centre wand Epsom Street Play Centre were all facing the axe as the youth and play service is facing a 50% budget reduction.

    Motorway slow down 16:10:

    BBC Travel News is reporting slow traffic on the M57 northbound between J6 at Kirkby (A506) and J7 for the M58.

    News on the hour 15:57: Graham Whyte BBC Radio Merseyside

    Five youth and play centres in Liverpool are set to remain open after an agreement with organisations willing to take them over.

    Listen to the 16:00 news bulletin for more.

    Coming up on Drive 15:49: Simon Hoban BBC Radio Merseyside

    We're looking at today's walkout by staff at the Passport Office, including in Liverpool, and speaking to a woman trying get her daughter's passport sorted in time for their holiday next month.

    And we meet a college lecturer from St Helens who has been given a new lease of life after her cousin travelled from the other side of the world to donate her kidney. Please join me at 16:00.

    PC's surprise at gates request 15:40: Ben Schofield BBC News

    A police officer on duty on the day of the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy said he was "surprised" at overhearing a senior officer's instruction to open a gate at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.

    PC Trevor Bichard told the inquests it was a "unique" request and that Supt Roger Marshall sounded "insistent" and "desperate".

    He also said police radios were not working after 15:00, adding: "We had lost control, basically."

    Central Park link up 15:28:

    A shopping centre in Merseyside has linked a group of youngsters up live with Central Park in New York.

    Big screen link up to central park

    The children, who are part of the Junior Rangers scheme at Pyramids in Birkenhead, were able to take a virtual tour of the US park.

    Tide time warnings 15:19:

    Mersey Fire tweets: Stay safe on beaches over the summer. Don't get caught out - check tide times. #SeftonBeachsafe

    Awards for Liverpool parks 15:09:

    Two Liverpool parks have been given Green Heritage awards, the city councils says.

    Boating Lake, Sefton Park

    Stanley Park was given an award in recognition of its importance to Liverpool's heritage - it also keeps its Green Flag status.

    Sefton Park (pictured in an archive photo) has also kept its Green Flag and Green Heritage status.

    News on the hour 14:57: Graham Whyte BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Hillsborough inquests have heard how senior police officers were told they should only delay the match if fans were turning up late because of a "reason beyond their control".

    Listen to the 15:00 news bulletin for more.

    Murder arrest after injured man dies 14:44:

    A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man who died after suffering fatal cuts to his neck and arms in Whiston on Sunday, reports BBC News Online.

    Martock, Whiston

    The victim, aged in his 50s, was treated at the scene in Martock but died on the way to hospital. He has yet to be formally identified.

    'No delay' kick-off policy 14:33: Ben Schofield BBC News

    At the Hillsborough inquests today, jurors heard senior police officers were told they should only delay the match if fans were turning up late because of factors "beyond their control".

    The comment was made by PC Trevor Bichard, who was South Yorkshire Police's camera operator inside the stadium on the day of the 1989 disaster.

    The constable said he had heard a sergeant say: "The policy is that we don't delay the kick-off if the fans have chosen to come late."

    Summer fun in St Helens 14:20:

    St Helens Council tweets: Our summer activities guide starts today. You can see the listings on our YAZ website. Here's this week's activities ow.ly/zEcjx

    Tough love 14:10:

    Hundreds of padlocks attached to a suspension bridge in Cheshire by people celebrating their love are being removed by the council.


    Cheshire West and Chester Council says the "lovelocks" are in danger of damaging the Queen's Park bridge in Chester, but that it will keep them for a year so people can reclaim them if they wish.

    News on the hour 14:00: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Northern Rail's promising to learn lessons from the Giants weekend in Liverpool and improve its services for future public events.

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    Viking pilgrimage 13:47:

    A two-day pilgrimage has begun to celebrate Wirral's Viking heritage.

    Walkers in the St Olav's Day pilgrimage

    The St Olav's Day pilgrimage has been organised by Stephen Harding, a professor at Nottingham University and also a Viking expert.

    The pilgrimage runs from St Bridget's Church in West Kirby to St Olave's Church in Chester.

    On North West Today 13:35: Stuart Flinders

    Liverpool City Council says around 1m people were in the city over the weekend to see the Giants spectacular, which Merseyrail says put a "tremendous strain" on its network.

    Muslims across the north west are celebrating Eid al Fitr today to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

    And so many people have been expressing their love and devotion for each other using padlocks on a bridge in Chester that it's being damaged.

    Watch more on BBC One at 13:30.

    More mayor thanks 13:17:

    Joe Anderson tweets: Giant thanks to @BBCNWT @GranadaReports @BayTV_Liverpool for your fantastic coverage sending great images across North West.

    Your favourite Giant moment 13:09: Roger Phillips BBC Radio Merseyside

    The last few days have been incredible, as Liverpool's been taken over by three giants. So I want to hear about your experiences, what were your favourite moments?

    Grandmother Giant

    Did you have any problems with transport? Let me know on 0151 709 9333

    News on the hour 13:00: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Northern Rail says it will learn lessons from the Giants weekend in Liverpool to improve its services for future public events.

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    Giants: Thank you Liverpool 12:49:

    Jim & Lydia Daniels emailed to say: Fantastic job! Thank you to the whole of Liverpool staff involved in the Giants walk on Friday evening.

    Xolo and crowds

    We drove for 6.5 hrs from Bristol and arrived to see the puppets walking to Newsham Park. What a fabulous evening, we walked with the crowds and just loved every minute. I think we got the best deal as we were with the community rather than tourists and we LOVED it.

    Thank you so much for a brilliantly planned event, everyone was just, literally, pulled together! Only sorry we weren't able to stay for the rest of the weekend.

    Recycling changes 12:33:

    The public are being asked what they think of plans by Warrington Council to cut the number of recycling centres from three to two.

    Bottles at recycling plant

    The council says its waste service has to save £816,000 in 2014-15.

    To do this, the council plans to close the recycling at Stockton Heath, concentrating services at its sites in Gatewarth and Woolston.

    It also plans to provide Local Recycling Points (LRPs) across Warrington and is asking people where they would like these to go.

    HS2 poll 12:24: Warrington Guardian

    An online poll is asking people if they are in favour of the proposed HS2 route?

    Passport strike hits Liverpool 12:10:

    Passport workers in Liverpool are joining a nationwide strike in protest over staffing levels.

    Liverpool Passport Office

    The Home Office has warned the industrial action could put people's holidays in danger.

    Paul McGoay from the Public and Commercial Services Union, acknowledged the public would suffer.

    News on the hour 12:00: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Union members in Liverpool have joined a national walk-out of passport workers who claim they can't deal with a backlog of nearly 500,000 applications

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    Mayor in Giant 'thank you' 11:57:

    Joe Anderson tweets: Special Giant thanks to @BBCRMersey @RadioCity967 @iHeartRadio @JuiceFM for bringing the story+atmosphere to listeners across City Region

    Duke to open restored park 11:43:

    Cheshire West & Chester Council tweets: The Duke of Westminster will open Chester's restored Grosvenor Park today

    Grosvenor Park, Chester
    Trouble-free Giants 11:37:

    No arrests were made related to the five days of the Giants event, Merseyside Police say.

    Giants parade

    Ch Supt Jon Ward says this was "a credit to the people of Merseyside and everyone who has visited us".

    "The Giants have once again proved hugely popular and there's no doubt the crowd's enthusiasm, good-humour and patience have contributed to making the event the enormous success it has been."

    Facelift for The Oglet 11:21:

    Halton Borough Council says it's been given £50,000 to improve an area of the Mersey Estuary called the Oglet which has a Beatles heritage.

    The Oglet

    The Oglet in Hale is adjacent to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and where Paul McCartney, his brother Mike and George Harrison would often go on their bikes when they were boys.

    The footpaths along the foreshore are part of the Transpennine trail and the area is popular with walkers, cyclists, naturalists and bird watchers, the council says.

    Planned improvements include resurfacing work, vegetation clearance and information boards.

    Inquests "enter new phase" 11:11: Ben Schofield Hillsborough reporter

    The first witness giving evidence at the Hillsborough inquests today is Trevor Bichard, who was a PC working inside the police control box.

    Christina Lambert QC has "heralded" a new phase of the inquests - moving from "planning" to "events of the day".

    News on the hour 11:00: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseytravel's defended itself after the Giants weekend left thousands of passengers queuing for hours to get home on the trains.

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    Your views 10:58:

    What you think of BBC Local Live? We'd like your feedback about the service.

    Giant lessons about WW1 10:43: Tom Mullen & Tom Airey BBC News Online

    Over three days, a million people stood in awe as giant marionettes strolled through the streets of Liverpool.

    Collectors for the Liverpool Pals memorial fund

    But what exactly did the spectacular show teach us about World War One?

    Numbers "unprecedented" 10:32: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Andy Gill tweets: @merseyrail say numbers of #liverpoolgiants visitors "tremendous strain" but they "coped with unprecedented numbers" More on @BBCNWT at 01:30

    New Merseyside cancer centre 10:18:

    Plans for a new specialist hospital in the heart of Liverpool, are going out for public consultation this summer.

    Artist's impression

    The new cancer centre would be on the same health campus as Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool.

    Dr Peter Kirkbride from the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Trust said: "Merseyside and Cheshire has one of the highest cancer rates nationally.

    "It's the biggest single cause of death here so it's something that will affect most of us, either as a patient or a relative, at some time in our lives."

    News on the hour 09:59: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseytravel is asking people to remember the size of their task, before criticising the transport delays over the Giants weekend

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    Getting the hump 09:45: Marc Gaier BBC Radio Merseyside

    Driving to a job in West Kirby saw this fellow in a field next to a circus big top.


    Not what you normally see in Saughall Massie!

    Send your pictures to merseyside.locallive@bbc.co.uk.

    Merseyrail staff were 'marvellous' 09:36:

    We asked you how well did Merseyrail cope with the Giants spectacular event? Sheila Coventry emailed to say:

    "I travelled to Liverpool from the Wirral on Friday to see the Grayson Perry Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery and was caught up in the Giants parade.

    The Grandmother Giant and the crowds

    "I can only say that the organisation of the trains, the staff on the trains and stations were marvellous.

    "I was proud to be in Liverpool - the atmosphere was incredible and everybody concerned should take a bow.

    "Thank you Merseyrail and all the services concerned for putting on a great show and keeping us safe."

    Send your comments to merseyside.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcmerseyside

    Kidney from down under 09:28: Liverpool Echo
    Giants and Vikings 09:17: Sean Styles BBC Radio Merseyside

    What an amazing weekend we've had!

    It was absolutely stunning seeing the Giants, the crowds, and the city coming together - I'll be looking back on the whole spectacle.

    Little Girl giant

    Also I'll be finding out about the St Olav's Day Walk which celebrates Wirral's Viking history. Join me at 09:30.

    Murder arrest 09:12:

    A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a man in Merseyside.

    A post-mortem examination will be carried out to establish the cause of death, police say.

    As it happened
    • News, sport, weather and travel from Monday
    • More updates from 08:00 on Tuesday
    • Listen: BBC Radio Merseyside
    News on the hour 08:59: Alex Dibble BBC Radio Merseyside

    More than a million people visited Liverpool to see the Giants spectacular over the last five days.

    Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside

    How well did Merseyrail cope? 08:57: Paul Salt BBC Radio Merseyside

    I'll be talking to Merseyrail after 09:00 - the operator says coping with the huge numbers of people coming to see the Giants was a "tremendous strain".

    What was your experience of the train service over the weekend?

    Call 0151 709 9333 or text 81333 with Mersey before your text.

    Homes affected by HS2 08:46: Warrington Guardian
    Did Merseyrail cope with Giants? 08:33:

    Merseyrail say coping with the huge number of people coming to see the Giants over the weekend had "not been easy at all" but that overall, it had "coped with these unprecedented numbers".

    Merseyrail train

    The operator say all its available rolling stock was on the network, more trains were running, and more carriages were added where possible.

    Maarten Spaargaren, MD at Merseyrail, said: "It's not been easy at all, but we have received great feedback from customers - especially about the provision of extra trains."

    Let us know how you feel the rail network coped over the weekend via email, Facebook or Twitter

    Murder suspect arrest 08:23:

    A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a man in Whiston, police say.

    Paramedics attended a property on Martock at 14:40 BST on Sunday and found a man, believed to be in his 50s, with lacerations to his neck and arms.

    He died en route to hospital, according to a spokesman.

    Merseyside Police say the arrested man remains in custody.

    Liverpool sign £20m Lovren 08:15:

    Liverpool have signed Southampton defender Dejan Lovren in a deal worth £20m - their fifth buy of the summer.

    Dejan Lovren

    The 25-year-old Croatia centre-back joins on a four-year contract and is the third Saints player to move to Anfield during this transfer window.

    Delays on the East Lancs 08:07:

    BBC Travel is reporting slow traffic on the A580 East Lancashire Road in Knowsley, at Knowsley Industrial Park.

    Dry with sunny periods 08:03:

    There may be the odd rogue shower about, but the morning should be dry with a mixture of sunny periods and cloudier spells.

    Weather chart

    It'll stay dry this afternoon and become increasingly sunny - highs of 21C (70F).

    Good morning 08:00: Jerry Chester BBC News, North West

    Welcome to Monday. I'm here with the news, sport, travel and weather for Merseyside today.

    If you'd like to share your comments or pictures, send them to merseyside.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet us at @bbcmerseyside.



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