A SENIOR policeman said a report of his concerns about the policing of the fateful FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough was “suppressed” by his bosses, the inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans heard today.
Retired chief inspector Frank Brayford said he detailed his concerns internally days after the 1989 tie which was commanded by chief superintendent David Duckenfield but said he never received a reply.
He said he was soon visited by an officer from West Midlands Police, which was investigating the role in the disaster of their counterparts in South Yorkshire, and was told: “Stop putting in reports about Hillsborough. You will never give evidence to Lord Justice Taylor.”
Mr Brayford told the inquest sitting in Warrington he sent a report which he addressed to a police inquiry team and then copied it to a superior at his division.
He said later the same day he was called into the officer of his superior’s deputy.
He said: “’My office now’, his words were. (He said) ‘Stop putting reports in about Hillsborough. You are not a witness, You were not there, It is nowt to do with you’.”
On the next day he said an officer from West Midlands Police stepped into his office and gave him a similar warning which left him “gobsmacked” and “devastated”.
Mr Brayford told the hearing he was involved with drawing up the operational order for the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest but was not there on April 15 1989 because he had been transferred weeks earlier to another police division, just like his then boss chief superintendent Brian Mole who Mr Duckenfield replaced.
He said he was not “satisfied” with changes that were made to the order.
He also recalled conversations with Mr Mole, who has since died, about his report in the days that followed the tragedy.
Mr Brayford said: “Brian said ‘I am not going to discuss this. Shut up. Stop talking about it. It is not in your interest to get involved in this’, that is the gospel truth.
“He went on to say ‘I am not doing this to protect Duckenfield and Co, I am trying to protect the good name of South Yorkshire Police and if it means being loyal to the Chief Constable (Peter Wright) then so be it’.”
He said he informed Mr Mole about the man purporting to be a West Midlands police officer.
Mr Brayford said: “He said ‘I can’t discuss it, let’s just talk about something else, come on let’s talk about your lovely dog’.
“I said ‘listen, I ain’t come to do that’.”
He said he never spoke to Mr Mole again who he considered a family friend.
Fiona Barton, representing South Yorkshire Police, asked Mr Brayford: “The evidence that you are giving now is that there was some sort of concerted effort on the part of a number of officers of South Yorkshire Police at the time to suppress your reports, that is your account?”
He replied: “That is the strength of it.”
He agreed with Miss Barton that he had not shown his reports to the then Police Complaints Authority or the Home Office at the time.
Miss Barton asked him why he did not pass on his report to the Taylor inquiry or attend the public hearing.
He said: “I would not be allowed in there and you know it too.”
Miss Barton continued: “This account about the concealment of your reports is a complete fabrication and these reports were never written, were they?”
Mr Brayford replied: “I am not lying today and I were not lying when I wrote that statement
“I have come here to tell the truth.
“It has been very, very difficult.
“I must tell you I did speak to two members of Parliament about it but the answers were not satisfactory, they didn’t throw any light on it all.
“Wherever I went I got the impression ‘you have no chance’. I know I have no chance here this morning telling you this.
“People that’s concerned are not going to change their evidence. I don’t want them to, They can’t. They’ll go straight to prison but that doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”
Mr Brayford revealed that he had written the report when questioned earlier this year by officers from Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the disaster.