BRITAIN

British probe launched into heartless internet insults over Hillsborough disaster

Probe after heartless jibes over soccer stadium disaster are traced to government computers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2014, 1:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2014, 1:32am
 

The British government was yesterday investigating claims that official computers were used to post inflammatory comments about the Hillsborough stadium disaster on Wikipedia.

Anonymous alterations to the online encyclopedia entry about the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died were made from computers on the government's secure intranet, the Liverpool Echo newspaper reported.

It said revisions to the Wikipedia entry began five years ago on the 20th anniversary of the disaster, and again in 2012.

Among the reported amendments to the Hillsborough section was an insertion saying "Blame Liverpool fans", and two years ago the phrase "You'll never walk alone" was altered to "You'll never walk again".

The Cabinet Office said the report was being treated with "utmost seriousness". A spokesman said: "We thank the Echo for bringing this to our attention.

"No one should be in any doubt of the government's position regarding the Hillsborough disaster and its support for the families of the 96 victims and all those affected by the tragedy."

The report said changes to the Wikipedia entry on the 1989 disaster, in which Liverpool fans were crushed to death on overcrowded terracing, were traced to Whitehall's secure intranet.

Sheila Coleman, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said the group was seeking legal advice.

"We'll be calling for an inquiry. We'll expect those responsible to be identified and appropriate action taken," she said. Sue Roberts, secretary of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, which represents 74 families, said the disrespect shown was "a new low" and those who made the changes should be ashamed.

Fresh inquests into the deaths are currently being held in Warrington, northwest England, after the previous verdicts were quashed following a long campaign by the victims' families.

An independent report into the disaster published in 2012 found police deliberately altered more than 160 witness statements in an attempt to blame Liverpool fans for the fatal crush.

It found that crowd safety at the stadium in Sheffield was "compromised at every level" and that 41 of those who died could have survived if they had received medical treatment more quickly.

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