PRESSURE was growing last night for the police officers responsible for the Hillsborough cover-up to face prosecution.
As South Yorkshire Police considered referring itself to the police watchdog, the former MP revealed as one of the sources behind The Sun’s controversial coverage of the tragedy, said he was “deeply and sincerely sorry”.
But ex-Sheffield MP Sir Irvine Patnick insisted he had been given “wholly inaccurate” information by officers.
Yesterday a damning report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the 96 lives lost at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, could have been saved.
Sir Irvine said last night he was “appalled” at the extent of the cover-up surrounding the disaster which saw Liverpool supporters die in a crush at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
The panel found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
South Yorkshire Police still employs 195 officers who were on duty at Hillsborough on the day.
Deborah Glass, deputy chairman of the IPCC, said: “The detailed and rigorous report of the Hillsborough panel into the tragic deaths of 96 people raises extremely serious and troubling issues for the police.
“Clearly there is a huge amount of information contained within the report and supporting documentation that needs to be analysed and digested.
“We are reviewing the panel’s report and we are aware that South Yorkshire Police are also carrying out a detailed assessment of the report with a view to making a referral to the IPCC.
“We also await the decision by the Attorney-General in respect of the inquests, and will liaise with the relevant parties to identify what should be investigated, and by whom.”
Earlier yesterday Sir Norman Bettison, the most senior serving police officer who was involved at the time, said he had “nothing to hide”.
The former South Yorkshire inspector, who is now Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, also claimed fans at the stadium had made the job of the police “harder than it needed to be”.
The comment appears to contradict Wednesday’s report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which said fans played no part in the unfolding disaster.
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, called for Sir Norman’s immediate resignation.
“He is still saying the fans made the job more difficult for the police. He ought to be ashamed of himself,” she said.