Hillsborough Wikipedia changes inquiry 'challenging'

Hillsborough memorial Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died after a crush at the Hillsborough stadium in 1989

Identifying who made offensive changes to a Wikipedia page about the Hillsborough disaster "may prove challenging", ministers have said.

The government said a full inquiry led by Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton was under way.

It came after the Liverpool Echo said Whitehall computers on a secure government network were used.

The Cabinet Office said the "sickening" changes were "in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code".

'All relevant material'

A Cabinet Office statement said "important stakeholders" including the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Hillsborough Disaster would be kept updated of developments.

How the source was uncovered

Liverpool Echo front page
  • Wikipedia allows any web user to make changes to its pages, but this leaves a trace through the user's internet protocol (IP) address
  • Changes are monitored by Wikipedia, but internet trolls have been known to post insulting material, which is usually swiftly removed
  • Liverpool Echo reporter Oliver Duggan discovered that insults posted on the website's Hillsborough Disaster page had been made using computers within the government's internal intranet
  • He confirmed this after referring to a list of 34 IP addresses used by the government released by former minister Angela Eagle in 2008

A spokesman said Andy Burnham MP, who "has a deserved status as an expert on the disaster", would be given the chance to "view all relevant material from the very outset so that he can assure himself all steps have been taken".

The statement said: "The amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code. It is entirely unacceptable.

"At this time, we have no reason to suspect that the Hillsborough edits involve any particular department, nor more than one or two individuals in 2009 and 2012.

"As the first incident happened five years ago and there are hundreds of thousands of people on the government's network, it may prove challenging to identify who was involved, but we are exhausting every option."

Mr Burnham said it was "sickening and appalling to think that people in government are aiming this kind of abuse at the Liverpool supporters - particularly the victims and survivors of that tragedy".

He said that "a full and proper inquiry [to] find the name of the individual or individuals responsible" needed to happen, adding that they must then be "held accountable - nothing else will do".

Mr Burnham, during his time as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, was instrumental in a campaign to have classified documents about the disaster released, which led to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Liverpool anthem

Oliver Duggan, the Liverpool Echo reporter who broke the story, said the paper used a list of 34 internet protocol (IP) addresses for Whitehall computers.

These were released in 2008 by Angela Eagle MP following a parliamentary question to "match up" the addresses with those used to edit the Wikipedia page about the disaster.

The newspaper said the alterations to the page included the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone being altered to You'll Never Walk Again and the phrase "Blame Liverpool Fans" being added to a paragraph.

line break
Wikipedia edit for Hillsborough disaster page on 15 April 2009 A Wikipedia edit on the 20th anniversary of the disaster added the words 'Blame Liverpool Fans'
line break

Steve Rotheram, the MP for Liverpool Walton, echoed Mr Burnham's remarks and said he and a group of Merseyside MPs would be writing to the government to ask that any inquiry "be swift".

Sheila Coleman, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said the group would be talking to its legal team about "how to proceed".

Ms Eagle, the MP for Wallasey, said the claims were "pretty shocking" and were "another problem for [the families] having to deal with the grief".

Entries in Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, can be edited by anyone with access to the internet.

Jon Davies, chief executive of Wikimedia UK, said it was "appalled by such vandalism".

Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died after a crush at an FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield ground on 15 April 1989.

New inquests, which are ongoing, were ordered after fresh evidence revealed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel led to the original inquest verdicts being quashed.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Liverpool

Weather

Liverpool

26 °C 18 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    'Wake up Xolo' 10:26: Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    As excitement builds for the Giants weekend, Xolo the dog is snoring and kids standing around are shouting "wake up, wake up!"

    Xolo and Little Girl Giant

    The Little Girl Giant takes him for a walk soon.

    You can listen live to BBC Radio Merseyside.

     
  2.  
    Giant walking stick 10:21: Judith Moritz North of England correspondent, BBC News

    There's a giant walking stick lying in front of St George's Hall this morning.

    Grandma's walking stick

    I reckon it's the right size for a 25ft granny.

     
  3.  
    Where's Grandma? 10:16:

    This is where the Grandma's going to be throughout the day.

    Grandma graphic

    As before, please be aware that these times are subject to change as it is a live show and there may be delays.

     
  4.  
    Huge crowds 10:11: Tom Mullen BBC News Online

    I've just arrived at the Queensway Tunnel as the Little Girl and Xolo the dog prepare to start their march.

    Crowds at Queensway Tunnel gathering to see Little Girl Giant

    The crowds here are huge and everyone's jostling to find the best vantage points to view the action - including me!

     
  5.  
    Finding the Little Girl and Xolo 10:06:

    Are you planning to come and see the Giants in Liverpool? Here is where the Little Girl Giant and her dog Xolo will be today.

    Little Girl graphic

    Please be aware times are subject to change as it's a live show and there may be delays.

    Details of the Grandmother will follow shortly.

     
  6.  
    News on the hour 10:00: Nick Hatfield BBC Radio Merseyside

    The headlines at 10:00 include:

     
  7.  
    Waiting for Grandma 09:55: BBC Radio Merseyside

    tweets: The crowds are starting to build at St George's Hall waiting for the #giants Grandma to wake up!

    Crowds at St George's Hall
     
  8.  
    Whipping up the crowds 09:50: Jayne McCubbin BBC North West Tonight

    tweets: Let's go! Jimmy from @bbcmerseyside on air he's been whipping up the crowds! #giants EXCITED! @BBCNWT

    Jimmy McCracken
     
  9.  
    Giant themes 09:44: Sean Styles BBC Radio Merseyside

    We are looking for songs to play on the show today that are related to our giant visitors.

    Let's try and be imaginative; perhaps a song for them waking up or exploring the city?

    Send your suggestions in via email,Twitter or Facebook and don't forget you can also text 81333 with Mersey before your message.

     
  10.  
    Look out for water and shade 09:39:

    Merseyside Police's Ch Supt John Ward says measures have been taken to help the crowds who'll be watching the Giants in the hot weather.

    Ch Supt John Ward

    "We've been working with the NHS and St John Ambulance will be out helping us as well to make sure there is plenty of water and plenty of support for people.

    "Shade is going to be an issue, people are going to be standing around for a long time, so please bear that in mind."

     
  11.  
    Fun in the sun 09:31: Nazia Mogra North West Tonight

    tweets: Off to see the #giants later producing @MerseyHack should be fun in the sun!! #liverpool

     
  12.  
    Brothers who became Pals 09:25:

    Two brothers, who became Liverpool Pals during World War One, will have their stories told as part of Giants visit to Liverpool.

    Edgar and Fred Kinder

    Edgar and Fred Kinder answered Lord Derby's call to arms and joined the volunteer battalions in the autumn of 1914.

    Sue Johnston met Fred's son John for North West Tonight.

     
  13.  
    Changes to buses 09:19:

    There will be significant changes to buses because of the Giants' visit to Liverpool.

    You can see a full list of changes here.

     
  14.  
    Thousands queued 09:13: BBC Radio Merseyside

    It's not long until the Giants wake up and take to the streets of Liverpool.

    Queuing to see Grandmother outside St Georges Hall

    Over the past two days, the Grandma has been sleeping at St George's Hall in the centre of the city. Thousands of people queued to see her as you can see above.

    You can get a taste of what it's been like on this video on our Facebook page.

     
  15.  
    Love of Liverpool 09:06: Helen Carter BBC Local Live

    Why has Giants genius Jean-Luc Courcoult fallen in love with Liverpool?

    Jean-Luc Courcoult

    You can read my article on why the eccentric director of the Royal De Luxe favours this city above all others on the BBC News.

     
  16.  
    News on the hour 09:00: Nick Hatfield BBC Radio Merseyside

    The headlines at 09:00 include:

    • Liverpool is gearing up for a spectacular show this weekend as the Giants walk the streets of the city once again
    • The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel and Hamas to end hostilities and start talking
    • Royal Bank of Scotland, which had to be bailed out by the taxpayer, has announced a huge leap in pre-tax profits
     
  17.  
    Top headlines
     
  18.  
    Wall of lights 08:54: BBC Radio Merseyside

    tweets: This appears to be a huge wall of car headlights down with the girl #giant at the Birkenhead tunnel. Mysterious!

    Wall of headlights
     
  19.  
    Queensway Tunnel closed 08:47:

    The Queensway Tunnel is closed today because of the Giants' visit to Liverpool. It is just one of a number of road closures made to accommodate the event.

    You can find details of all the road closures here.

     
  20.  
    Snoring away 08:40: Tony Snell BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Little Girl may be sleeping soundly but the Grandma is snoring away in her wheelchair outside St Georges Hall.

    Grandma sleeping in front of St Georges Hall

    I have to confess, I absolutely love her slippers!

     
  21.  
    Front Row's giant celebration 08:33: BBC Radio 4

    BBC Radio 4's Front Row has been celebrating the return of giant puppets to Liverpool.

    Kirsty Lang found out about the three visitors and how Liverpool City Council has coped with turning the city centre into a giant's performance space, which included cutting down trees to let them through.

    You can listen to the show on the BBC iPlayer.

     
  22.  
    Sleeping soundly 08:26: Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    I can hear the Little Girl Giant breathing as she sleeps at the Liverpool entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel.

    Little Girl Giant asleep outside the Birkenhead Tunnel

    She'll be waking up in a few hours and will be starting her journey through the city.

     
  23.  
    Extra carriages 08:18: Jenny Summers BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseyrail are putting on extra carriages in anticipation of the huge numbers of people flocking to Liverpool to see the Giants.

    Wirral line passengers are being asked to use Liverpool Central station while Northern line customers are being asked to use Moorfields.

    Visit the Merseyrail website for full details.

     
  24.  
    Live from St George's Hall 08:12: Tony Snell BBC Radio Merseyside

    We're live in front of St George's Hall until 09:30 this morning.

    Snelly and Claire McColgan, Director of Culture at Liverpool City Council

    I've been talking to Claire McColgan, Director of Culture at Liverpool City Council.

    She says it's important to remember that the event is also commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.

     
  25.  
    Fine, dry and warm 08:06: Sara Blizzard Weather Presenter, BBC North West Today

    Another fine, dry and warm day is expected with just a little cloud developing in places, mainly during the afternoon.

    Weather graphic for 13:00 on 25.07.2014

    Winds remaining light throughout the day with temperatures reaching a maximum of 27C (81F).

     
  26.  
    News on the hour 08:00: Nick Hatfield BBC Radio Merseyside

    The headlines at 08:00 include:

     
  27.  
    A giant good morning 08:00: Owen Walker BBC Local Live

    They're here - the giants have arrived in Liverpool and we will be bringing you all the latest on their visit here on Giants Live over the next three days.

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

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Canada.Hidden rail trip

    Canada's tiny, two-car shuttle is a train lover's dream with scenic views

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.