Hillsborough inquests: Police memo 'tried to denigrate fans'

Terry Wain
Image caption Ex-chief superintendent Terry Wain accepted South Yorkshire Police had behaved 'disgracefully'

A senior police officer at Hillsborough has admitted a memo he wrote asking for evidence of "unruly behaviour" was an attempt to "denigrate" Liverpool fans.

Former Ch Supt Terry Wain, who compiled a report for a public inquiry, accepted South Yorkshire Police had behaved "disgracefully".

He told the inquests he could not remember sending the memo, which was written in July 1990.

Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush at the 15 April 1989 match.

The inquest heard Ch Supt Terry Wain wrote the note, addressed to a detective inspector, while preparing for the first Hillsborough hearings.

It said: "In preparation for the resumed inquest proceedings, please interrogate the system to show those [police] officers who can give the best evidence concerning: unruly behaviour by Liverpool fans; non ticket holders; forged tickets used to gain entry; drunkenness by fans; public houses in the area being crowded out; volume of intoxicants generally, eg off licences and supermarkets."

'Drunken fans'

Mark George QC, who represents a group of the bereaved families, asked: "It looks, doesn't it, to anyone reading it as if this is clear evidence of an attempt to denigrate the fans?"

Mr Wain replied: "I must agree with you."

He said he did not remember issuing the memo, adding: "I can only think that that was a request from the legal team for this information."

Mr Wain said he was unsure if the information was ever provided.

The barrister continued: "It's disgraceful, isn't it, that it was the attitude of South Yorkshire Police?"

"Yes, I'm not happy with what I'm reading there," the former senior officer replied.

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the terrace crush at the stadium in Sheffield

The jury was also shown a photograph of beer cans outside Hillsborough, taken hours after the disaster.

The inquests heard an evidence-gathering photographer was sent to take pictures of "discarded alcohol containers" around the stadium. The order was timed at about 17:55 BST.

'Cover-up allegations'

Terry Munyard, a barrister representing three bereaved families, asked: "Before a single statement has been taken from anybody, South Yorkshire Police, do you accept, were already starting to create the narrative that this disaster was in some way caused by drunken Liverpool fans?"

Mr Wain replied: "It would appear to be, if that's the case."

He told the hearing he played no part in drawing up or issuing the order to the photographer.

Questioned by his own barrister, Mr Wain said he was aware of "allegations of a cover-up" after Hillsborough.

Mr Wain said he "wouldn't have allowed" himself to be involved in a cover-up.

He added: "My nature wouldn't have allowed it."

The inquests, being held in Warrington, Cheshire, continue.

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