Liverpool

Hillsborough: IPCC to investigate South Yorkshire Police 'spin' claims

Hayley Court
Image caption Hayley Court worked as South Yorkshire Police's Hillsborough communications specialist

The police watchdog has launched an investigation after a former South Yorkshire Police press officer claimed she was asked to "spin" news during the Hillsborough inquests.

Hayley Court claimed she was asked to encourage the media to report evidence favourable to the police, including that fans were partly to blame.

She said she was told to "get the media together and tell them what to write".

The force has said Ms Court's claims were "not substantiated".

'Wholly unethical'

A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said: "Following an assessment of the available evidence, the IPCC has decided to conduct an independent investigation into this matter."

Ms Court claimed she felt trapped when she realised she had been given an "impossible job" that was "wholly unethical".

"It seemed to me to be more about how we could share the blame," she said.

"If South Yorkshire Police was going to be found partly responsible for what happened then all the other interested parties should be found partly responsible as well.

"If that meant perpetuating comments about fans being drunk, if that meant perpetuating comments about fans forcing gates then that was how they were going to do it."

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Ninety-six football fans died after crushing in the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough stadium

Ninety-six football fans died in the 1989 disaster, which unfolded during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

A jury at the inquests concluded the fans had been unlawfully killed.

They also criticised SYP's planning for the match, and highlighted a catalogue of failures by senior officers on the day.

The stadium was also said to have contained "defects" that contributed to the disaster, and Sheffield Wednesday FC and South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service were criticised.

The supporters were exonerated of any blame.

SYP's chief constable David Crompton was suspended the day after the inquests concluded because there had been an "erosion of trust".

Meanwhile, the 96 victims of the disaster are to be awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.

Other key figures in the 27-year campaign to receive the city's highest civic honour are former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and his wife Marina; the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones and Prof Phil Scraton from the Hilllsborough Independent Panel.

The victims' families were awarded freedom of the city of Liverpool in 2009.

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