Liverpool

Hillsborough inquests: Police 'intimidated' survivor during questioning

Hillsborough Disaster memorial stone at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush at the FA Cup semi-final

Police investigating the Hillsborough disaster were "intimidating" and "aggressive" when questioning a survivor, the inquests have been told.

Ian Lee, who was in the crush in pen four, said he was interviewed by two officers who were "professional" and "relaxed" at first.

But he said their mood changed when he said the main reason for what happened was a lack of police and stewards.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died after the terrace crush on 15 April 1989.

Mr Lee told the court the crush was so intense in the pen that his arms were "pinned down and I had no control over movement".

West Midlands Police were asked to investigate the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium in the days that followed.

The court heard that two officers took a statement from Mr Lee, a Liverpool season ticket holder, dated 4 May 1989.

Mr Lee had called the force on 27 April responding to an appeal for witnesses to get in touch.

He said the officers were "initially very professional, very courteous" and they appeared "to be attentive to the evidence that was given".

'Apportioning blame'

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Image caption The new inquests are being held in Warrington

But Mr Lee said their attitude changed "when the issue of apportioning blame for the tragedy became evident".

He added: "I said at the time, and have maintained through all the time, that the primary reason for the tragedy was the lack of policing and stewarding on the day.

"When we got on to that subject, the mood of both officers changed significantly.

"They sat forward, tried to become more intimidating, became more aggressive in their questioning.

"Every time I tried to put my story forward they all tried to drag it back to fans - the fans drinking, fans' behaviour, so it all became fan-centric, rather than trying to accept what I put forward as a statement."

Mr Lee also said he signed every page of a handwritten statement but "by the end of the interview, I probably didn't give it the due diligence it deserved".

He said officers asked him to read it through but did not give him an opportunity to "rectify or change anything at the time".

The court heard the statement did include many of the criticisms Mr Lee had about the FA Cup semi-final, but Mr Lee said one sentence about fans without tickets being allowed to get too close to the ground was "misleading".

He said the rest of the statement was accurate, although the "emphasis" was different.


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The jury at the coroner's court in Warrington also heard from Debbie Routledge who survived the crush in the neighbouring pen to Mr Lee's.

Ms Routledge told the court she arrived at the stadium early to get a good position to watch the match at the front of pen three.

But she said "all of a sudden it got very full, very quickly".

She added: "I felt one surge and I was able to push myself back and then I felt a second surge and I couldn't move."

She said she was only able to escape around 20 minutes later.

Ms Routledge also said she saw police officers pushing fans back into the pen through a gate which opened in the fencing.

She said one fan who got out of the pen shouted at police to "do something".

"It was at that point only when the police actually came to the front of the fence," she said.

Asked what the police response to the disaster was like, she said: "It was slow and it was confused and it was chaos."

The inquests continue.

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