By Ewan Foskett
Thursday, September 20, 2012
THE Welwyn and Hatfield Times can exclusively reveal Herts’ former top officer blamed football fans for the deaths of 96 innocent people in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
Just four days after the 1989 Sheffield stadium catastrophe the county’s chief constable, Trefor Morris, wrote in support of his counterpart in South Yorkshire - Peter Wright - when the “initial melee” had died down.
He said: “What seems to have been disregarded, at least until this morning’s newspapers, is that the cause of the fatalities undoubtedly was an influx of spectators, many of whom who did not have tickets but were determined at all costs to gain access to the ground.
“I sympathise with the officer, who faced that with impossible odds and the threat to life and limb outside the ground, coming to the decision he did.”
The letter was released by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which this month exonerated fans and found the main cause of the tragedy was “lack of police control”.
It is the country’s worst stadium disaster where overcrowding at a FA Cup clash between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest led to fans being crushed to death.
The Hillsborough Justice Campaign has been fighting for families since the disaster with one of its leading members has hit out at Mr Morris’ remarks.
Steve Kelly’s brother Michael died in the chaos and recently discovered the 38-year-old was one of the 41 that could have survived if the emergency services responded properly.
The 60-year-old said: “I lost my brother in the disaster and I’m meeting the panel members, because my brother was one of the 41 who could have been saved.
“I think the chief constable of Hertfordshire needs to go away read the documents and if he wants to apologise so be it.
“We are sick and tired of trying to make people accept what went on.
“People just need to read the documents and it just proves what happened – statements like this don’t help.”
Herts Police claimed Mr Morris could not have known what had happened that day but would not comment in detail on the letter.
A spokesman said: “It is not possible to comment in detail on a personal letter written by the then chief constable.
“What we can say is that the letter was written just days after the tragedy and the chief constable would presumably have been expressing his personal opinion on information that would have been in the public domain at the time.
“While he could not have known what we now understand happened at Hillsborough that day, he expressed sincere sympathy with the bereaved families and all those involved in the traumatic events.”