Hillsborough Pc’s statement ‘edited to remove police criticism’

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A STATEMENT made by a police officer at the Hillsborough disaster saying only one of his senior officers was doing anything as fans were crushed to death was changed before it was submitted to investigators, an inquest heard today.

Pc Gary Cammock, who was responsible for helping Liverpool fans arriving by train on the day of the tragedy, wrote a hand-written statement on plain paper days after the worst ever tragedy at a British sporting event.

An inquest today heard that the statement written on May 8, 1989, included a description of his attempts to help fans who had escaped the Leppings Lane terrace on the day.

This included a passage which said: “I think only one gaffer was, as far as I was concerned, doing anything and that was Chief Superintendent John Nesbitt.”

When his hand-written statement was typed up and send back to him as an annotated version, this passage was scored out, the jury in Warrington was told.

Another part of his statement criticising the microphone used in a briefing for police officers in the North Stand at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium was also scored out and replaced with ‘from my position it was difficult to hear’.

Pete Weatherby QC, representing 22 of the victims’ families, pointed out that Mr Cammock had put his initials next to two other changes in the annotated version but not the changes to passages criticising the force.

He said: “You agree with me that it shows you did not agree to the amendments?” Mr Cammock replied: “Yes, it would appear so.”

His statement on May 8 was sent to West Midlands Police for their enquiry into the disaster, where 96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium.

Mr Cammock, who joined South Yorkshire Police in 1975 and served as a police constable, was responsible for helping Liverpool fans off the train at Wadsley Bridge station prior to the match on April 15, 1989.

As crowds built up near the perimeter gates of the stadium and fans began to complain about being crushed in the run-up to the match, the inquest heard he became worried “someone was going to get seriously injured or killed”.

He said he spoke to Superintendent Roger Marshall, who gave him permission to ask stewards to open Gate A, allowing fans to surge through and ease the crush.

Minutes later, when officers were called to the ground, he entered the stadium via the North Stand and went onto the pitch, the jury was told.

Speaking about the scene he saw at the Leppings Lane end, he said: “It was a horrendous situation, people trapped against the fencing, people crying out. I went straight to the fence to see if I could help.

“There was screaming, shouting, I could smell beer, I could also smell vomit, it was just a horrendous situation.”

The inquest was told that as a result of the events of the day, Mr Cammock suffered a mental illness which is still affecting him today. He said around the time of the May 8 statement he was “like a zombie” and could not remember writing it.

Earlier, a police sergeant working on the day of the Hillsborough disaster was accused of being “welded” to his claims of seeing large numbers of Liverpool fans carrying drinks and without tickets.

Philip Colin Lomas came under scrutiny for his claims that supporters walking towards the ground were carrying “large quantities of alcohol” in the minutes before the 1989 tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium.

The inquest into the disaster, held in Warrington, heard that Mr Lomas had described seeing a fan with a carafe of wine and others with large bottles of cider, that he saw a “lot of people staggering” and “worse for wear for drink”.

After being shown a photo of fans in front of the Leppings Lane turnstile at 2.24pm, he was asked by Brenda Campbell, a barrister representing a group of Hillsborough families, if he could tell whether any of the them had tickets.

Mr Lomas, who was acting up as inspector at the time of the tragedy, replied: “No, not at all”. He added later: “I have never said that anybody was out there not to enjoy a football match.”

The officer, who is now retired, was in charge of a group of officers patrolling on Middlewood Road to the south of the stadium on the day of the tragedy.

When shown images and footage of fans at other sites near the stadium, he said he could not see anyone carrying drink or staggering but that this was not the area where he was stationed.

Ms Campbell told him: “You are welded to your account that the majority of fans were worse for alcohol, that large volumes were carrying drink. That the flow was away from the stadium until 2.30pm and that there was a large volume of ticketless fans.”

Mr Lomas replied, “I know what I saw. I know what I heard.”

He later told the inquest that he made an assumption that the people gathering outside the ground before the match did not have tickets. He added: “That was the assumption that I made. It is one that I stand by today.”

Ms Campbell said: “What you are saying is that you think it is a safe assumption that looking at anyone who is waiting outside that ground, to assume they didn’t have a ticket and then to assume they went into the ground without a ticket.”

Mr Lomas replied: “That is correct.”

Yesterday Mr Lomas told the inquest the instructions about what to put in and leave out of his notes in his pocket book were given by senior officers because of “blame” towards South Yorkshire Police.

He said Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Anderson said the disaster was the fault of “drunk, ticketless fans”.

The inquest heard Mr Lomas was told by a superintendent, Mr Nettlechip, to include additional details in his account, made two days after the tragedy, about fans drinking and gathering without tickets.

He said he was asked to put in extra details but added: “What was never said to me was ‘we want you to lie and put in false details’, because I wouldn’t have done that.”

Mark George, representing 22 of the Hillsborough families, asked him: “Do you think the reality is that, loyal company man as you are, and with the words of Mr Nettlechip and Mr Anderson, you have gone completely over the top and exaggerated out of all proportion the reality of the behaviour of the fans that day.”

Ninety six fans died following the crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, the worst ever disaster at a British sporting event.