THE referee who was on duty at Hillsborough stadium on the day of Britain’s worst sporting disaster has claimed his statement was changed to support allegations that fans were drunk.
The allegations by Ray Lewis appear to be yet more evidence of the major cover-up by South Yorkshire Police and others to avoid the blame for what happened on that fatal day, April 15, 1989, when 96 football fans died.
Two investigations into the disaster, Operation Resolve and the Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry, are due to hand files to the Crown Prosecution Service at the turn of the year as the fallout continues from this year’s inquests.
At the end of the longest jury case in British legal history, in April this year an inquest found that each of the victims had been unlawfully killed and that the fans were exonerated from any blame.
Those historic verdicts ended 27 years of campaigning for the families of those Liverpool supporters who lost their lives, but the story is far from finished yet with a decision still pending on whether those responsible will face criminal charges.
Now, in new revelations, Mr Lewis, who officiated the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on the day of the tragedy, said he had described “mixed” groups of fans in his original statement, but that when he later saw a typed version, he realised that this particular word had been changed.
In an interview due to be aired tonight as part of a new ITV documentary entitled Hillsborough: Smears, Survivors and the Search for Truth, Mr Lewis reveals that his wording was allegedly changed to describe fans as drunk.
Mr Lewis told the programme: “When I received the typed-up version it said these spectators were p****d. So they changed the word ‘mixed’ to ‘p****d’.
“The handwriting I must admit from the police superintendent isn’t particularly good, but I’m sure that anyone who would actually look at that would identify the word is definitely not ‘p****d’.
“So I just feel it’s been placed in there to give support possibly to police actions.”
The programme will also reveal that former Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards included allegations of bad behaviour of fans in his statement about the tragedy.
In his statement, Sir Dave, who went on to become the chairman of Sheffield Wednesday after the disaster at the club’s stadium, described fans shouting lewd comments about a female casualty whose blouse had become unbuttoned.
The same allegations were also reported in the Sun newspaper.
Programme makers, who say Sir Dave’s description of the apparently dead woman does not match any of the seven women who were killed in the tragedy, said when they wrote to ask him about his statement their letters were returned unopened.
Meanwhile, the programme’s investigations revealed a witness who reported the same allegations to police was the daughter of a South Yorkshire Police chief inspector who was on duty at the cup tie.
Cherry Daniels, whose father is retired officer David Sumner, told programme makers she informed investigating force West Midlands Police about her father’s position but was told it was not relevant.
The documentary, which will be broadcast on ITV tonight from 10.40pm, features journalist Peter Marshall examining some of the evidence behind the stories of the disaster.