Hillsborough documents blame fans
Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was told that a senior Merseyside Police officer blamed "drunken Liverpool fans" for the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster, according to leaked government papers.
The documents show that four days after the tragedy, a member of Mrs Thatcher's No 10 policy unit met senior Merseyside officers who told her large numbers of Liverpool fans turning up without tickets had been a "key factor" in what happened.
Ninety-six fans died following a crush on the overcrowded terraces at the stadium in Sheffield where Liverpool were due to play an FA Cup semi-final match in April 1989.
There was deep anger in the city after South Yorkshire Police, who were responsible for policing the game, blamed Liverpool fans who turned up drunk, late, and without tickets, for what happened.
However, the papers, obtained by BBC Radio 4's The World At One, suggest that view was shared by their colleagues on Merseyside itself.
They include a note addressed to Mrs Thatcher dated April 20 1989 headed "Merseyside Police views on Hillsborough" and marked "Confidential".
It contains an account of what was said to be a long-planned meeting between the No 10 adviser and the then Merseyside chief constable Sir Kenneth Oxford and other senior officers from the force.
According to the note, Sir Kenneth said: "A key factor in causing the disaster was the fact that large numbers of Liverpool fans had turned up without tickets. This was getting lost sight of in attempts to blame the police, the football authorities, etc."
Another officer - who was not named - was said to have directly blamed the supporters. "One officer, born and bred in Liverpool, said that he was deeply ashamed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster, just as they had caused the deaths at Heysel," the note said. Thirty-nine people had died at the Heysel stadium in Belgium when rioting Liverpool supporters charged Juventus fans before the 1985 European Cup final.
Sir Kenneth, who died in 1998, was also said to have expressed concern at the way Liverpool's ground at Anfield had been turned into a "shrine" by grieving fans. "He deplored the press's morbid concentration on pictures of bodies. He was also uneasy about the way in which Anfield was being turned into a shrine," the note said.