Hillsborough Police Revelation

The documents show that four days after the tragedy, a member of Mrs Thatcher's No 10 policy unit met senior Merseyside officers who told her large numbers of Liverpool fans turning up without tickets had been a ``key factor'' in what happened.

Ninety-six fans died following a crush on the overcrowded terraces at the stadium in Sheffield where Liverpool were due to play an FA Cup semi-final match in April 1989. There was deep anger in the city after South Yorkshire Police, who were responsible for policing the game, blamed Liverpool fans who turned up drunk, late, and without tickets, for what happened.
However the papers, obtained by BBC Radio 4's The World at One, suggest that view was shared by their colleagues on Merseyside itself.
They include a note addressed to Mrs Thatcher dated April 20 1989 headed ``Merseyside Police views on Hillsborough'' and marked ``Confidential''. According to the note, then Merseyside chief constable Sir Kenneth Oxford said: ``A key factor in causing the disaster was the fact that large numbers of Liverpool fans had turned up without tickets. This was getting lost sight of in attempts to blame the police, the football authorities, etc.''
Another officer - who was not named - was said to have directly blamed the supporters. ``One officer, born and bred in Liverpool, said that he was deeply ashamed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster,'' the note said. The programme said none of the papers it had seen referred to the views of the South Yorkshire force.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel, set up in 2009, is currently reviewing all the official papers relating to the disaster with a view to their eventual release later this year.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, a campaigner for the early release of the documents, told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: ``To have these allegations of drunkenness thrown round immediately after, we always knew they were disgraceful slurs. It was just appalling.'' Mr Burnham said it would be remembered as ``one of the biggest injustices of the 20th century''.
Merseyside Chief Constable Jon Murphy said: ``Merseyside Police has been made aware of the existence of a document which contains comments that are alleged to have been made by the late Sir Kenneth Oxford, the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police at the time of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It is inappropriate to comment any further on its content.
``The Hillsborough tragedy directly affected many people across Merseyside and beyond. We understand the profound impact of the events of April 15 1989 and we continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.''

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