Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary refused to apologise today for incendiary comments blaming Liverpool fans for Hillsborough disaster.
Sir Bernard Ingham was confronted by a Daily 澳门新蒲京娱乐场 reporter at his home in Surrey moments after an inquest jury delivered an unlawful killing verdict and cleared fans of all blame.
Asked whether he would be willing to talk about the long awaited verdict, Sir Bernard said "no".
The inquest found that fans behaviour did not "cause or contribute to" the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane End turnstiles.
The verdict sparked emotional scenes among hundreds of bereaved relatives gathered in the public gallery after decades fighting for justice.
Asked whether he would apologise for comments labelling Liverpool fans "tanked up yobs", Sir Bernard told our reporter "I have nothing to say" before shutting the door.
In a 1996 letter replying to Liverpool fan Graham Skinner - whose friend had died in the disaster - Sir Bernard said Liverpool should "shut up about Hillsborough".
He had said: "I believe there would have been no Hillsborough disaster if tanked up yobs had not turned up in very large numbers to try to force their way in the ground."
Sir Bernard had previous said he and then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were briefed by South Yorkshire Police officers the day after the disaster that a "tanked up mob" of fans outside the ground were to blame.
He has always stuck to this version of events.
The letter added: "It will do Liverpool no good whatsoever in the eyes of the nation if, egged on by ambulance chasing lawyers, those who saw their relatives killed at Hillsborough now sue for compensation for the 'trauma'.
"Is the pain of losing a relative to be soothed away by a fat cheque?
"Take my advice Mr Skinner; least said, soonest mended for Liverpool."
Letter from Sir Bernard Ingham to Graham Skinner in December 30, 1996
Thank you for your letter of December 11. I believe that there would have been no Hillsborough disaster if tanked-up yobs had not turned up in very large numbers to try to force their way into the ground.
I visited Hillsborough the day after the disaster and I know what I learned then. I have never denied that the police may have made mistakes, but I firmly believe that the Lord Chief Justice whitewashed the real culprits and I said so from the moment I read his report.
I have not seen the McGovern film. But I am long enough in the tooth to know that TV films should never be accepted as evidence. But let us suppose there is something in the film – for example, the “evidence” that the pens were already full when the gates were opened. W
What, then were all those people doing trying to get into the ground? I have never, of course, said where they came from because I do not know.
I have no intention of apologising for my views which are sincerely held on the basis of what I heard first hand at Hillsborough.
I have, however, one suggestion to make: for its own good, Liverpool – with the Heysel disaster in the background – should shut up about Hillsborough.
“Nothing can now bring back those who died – innocent people who, by virtue of being in the ground early, had their lives crushed out of them by a mob surging in late.
To go on about it serves only to confirm in many people’s minds that Liverpool has a very bad conscience about soccer disasters. I think it a disgrace to the public service that South Yorkshire policemen have won the right to compensation.
But it will do Liverpool no good whatsoever in the eyes of the nation if, egged on by ambulance-chasing lawyers, those who saw their relatives killed at Hillsborough now sue for compensation for the “trauma”. Is the pain of losing a relative to be soothed away by a fat cheque?
Take my advice, Mr Skinner: least said, soonest mended for Liverpool.