Calls for Hillsborough prosecutions
Pressure is growing 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.
This came a day after 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 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. But the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said he has written to Sir Bob Kerslake, Chair of the Honours Forfeiture Committee, calling for Sir Irvine to be stripped of his knighthood. In his letter, the Mayor condemned the former MP for a "vile and appalling smear campaign" which has led to fans being "vilified and stigmatised" to deflect criticism from South Yorkshire Police and other authorities.
The Independent 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, which still employs 195 officers who were on duty at Hillsborough on the day, said the force "is currently reviewing a wide variety of matters raised in the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel with a view to making a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission".
The force added that it was looking in detail at the material released by the panel and its report before making a decision on whether any specific matters should be referred to the IPCC, the police watchdog.
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 the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which said fans played no part in the unfolding disaster.
Sir Norman was an off-duty South Yorkshire Police inspector when he attended the game, and was involved in an internal inquiry held by the force in its aftermath. He said a second team of officers, which did not involve him, was created by South Yorkshire Police to "work with solicitors who were representing South Yorkshire Police at the Taylor Inquiry and to vet statements from its officers that were intended to be presented to the inquiry".
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.