ANGRY families today called for answers into why senior Merseyside Police officers told a Margaret Thatcher advisor Liverpool FC fans were to blame for the Hillsborough tragedy.
Relatives who lost loved ones at the 1989 semi-final learnt how then-chief constable Ken Oxford and another high-ranking colleague pointed the finger at “ticketless” and “drunken” supporters for the disaster which killed 96 people.
In further disturbing revelations a Merseyside officer also wrongly linked Hillsborough to the 1985 Heysel tragedy and was quoted saying he was “deeply ashamed” of Reds supporters in a BBC report into a leaked document.
Campaigners described the accusations, since proven as wrong, as “appalling and disgraceful” and demanded an apology.
Pressure was today on Merseyside Police to respond to the claims made by the late Sir Ken Oxford four days after the fatal crush and who also expressed his unease at the shrine at Anfield when Liverpool opened its doors for grieving families.
But the current chief constable held back from such a step and a statement only said: “It is inappropriate to comment any further on its leaked report content. The Hillsborough tragedy directly affected many people across Merseyside and beyond. We understand its profound impact and we continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.”
The Bishop of Liverpool, heading the independent panel studying up to two million previously hidden papers on the tragedy, urged patience but recognised the hurt the revelations had prompted.
He said: “I understand the reaction to these files.
“However it’s important to wait until all the files are released and published in order to form a proper understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.
“The panel has accessed over 400,000 pages and is still finding more documents. It is painstakingly researching these according to its terms of reference.”
Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, 18, said: “It angers me that our own police force were saying these things within days of the tragedy.
“To put Heysel in the same light as Hillsborough is so hurtful to the families.
“And to criticise the shrine at Anfield was an absolute disgrace. The cover-up started just hours after Liverpool fans died.
“I’m not surprised now what goes on behind closed doors.
“Ken Oxford has since died but I wonder if he still always held the same views?
“We know what Thatcher thought about football fans generally but to hear our own police force repeating that is hard to take.
“I would like to ask Merseyside Police: ‘do you have the same opinion now?’ They should say sorry as the police played a big part in the injustice of Hillsborough.”
Families questioned how Ken Oxford was able to make clear judgements so soon after the tragedy even though he wasn’t at the match.
His assistant chief constable Sir James Sharples was in attendance, however, and focus could now fall on any conversations between him and his superior in the aftermath of the disaster.
The Post tried to contact Mr Sharples but he was unavailable.
Sheila Coleman, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, described the leak as “highly coincidental” and added: “The emphasis on Merseyside Police rather than South Yorkshire is really suspicious.
“The force actually involved in the disaster is not there. That’s appalling. What’s been leaked has put the emphasis on Liverpool not the government where it should be.
“This is a diversionary tactic which will have no bearing on the truth. His comments about the shrine at Anfield shows a distinct lack of understanding of Liverpool people and their culture.”
Anne Williams, whose son Kevin, 15, died, said: “Where did Oxford get his information from? Was it South Yorkshire Police? He was not even at the semi-final. I’m not surprised with these comments. Let’s remember how Superintendent Duckenfield lied and said Liverpool fans forced open the gates.
“This is the tip of the iceberg. When the panel brings out its findings we will hear of more corruption. I welcome the truth coming out. It can’t keep hiding away. We are breaking through slowly and we will get there.”
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