Sep 13 2012
A former Conservative MP named as one of the sources behind The Sun's controversial coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy has said he is "deeply and sincerely sorry" for the part he played in the scandal.
Sir Irvine Patnick said he had been given "wholly inaccurate" information by some members of the police and was "appalled" at the extent of the cover-up surrounding the disaster.
But the former Tory MP for Sheffield Hallam said he "totally" accepted responsibility for repeating the information, which led to the tabloid newspaper's notorious front page story headlined The Truth.
Meanwhile, Sir Norman Bettison, the most senior serving police officer who was involved with South Yorkshire Police's discredited Hillsborough operation, has said he had "nothing to hide".
Sir Norman, now the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, has faced calls to quit following the publication of an independent report into the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed.
In a statement he insisted the behaviour of some fans in the stadium made the job of the police "harder than it needed to be". He also defended his role in the aftermath of April 15 1989, saying: "I never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered."
Wednesday's damning report, published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to its 96 victims. 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. They said: "The evidence shows conclusively that Liverpool fans neither caused nor contributed to the deaths of 96 men, women and children.".
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: "Fans' behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be. But it didn't cause the disaster any more than the sunny day that encouraged people to linger outside the stadium as kick off approached. I held those views then, I hold them now. I have never, since hearing the Taylor evidence unfold, offered any other interpretation in public or private."
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, said of Sir Norman Bettison's statement: "Quite frankly I am quite angry about it and I think he should resign. He should do the decent thing and resign, no matter what he is saying in his statement today. He is still saying the fans made the job more difficult for the police. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Do the decent thing Mr Bettison - resign."