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  1. ITV Report

Hillsborough Police wanted to use victims' fund for gyms and microwaves

Liverpool fan at Hillsborough after the stadium disaster in1989 Photo: John Giles/PA

Police chiefs investigating the Hillsborough disaster wanted to spend part of the money donated to the victims' families on a holiday flat and gifts for officers, it has been reported.

South Yorkshire Police discussed a number of ideas in 1991 on how to spend "residual money" from the £12 million fund, including microwave ovens for police station kitchens, new gym equipment, gifts to police officers and a holiday flat, the Liverpool Echo said.

The majority of the fund, made up largely of public donations, had been given to families and survivors but trustees asked police and other organisations for suggestions on how to spend the remaining money.

In a memo seen by the paper, entitled 'Hillsborough Disaster Fund' and dated February 1991, the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, then a superintendent in South Yorkshire Police, requested #2,000 from the fund to refurbish the reception of his police station.

None of the projects is believed to have been approved by the fund's trustees.

The chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group said it was "despicable" that police wanted to spend money on officers.

"It is one of the most shocking things I've heard in a long time," Margaret Aspinall told the newspaper.

"It's not something I was previously aware of and to hear how, even in 1991 when it was clear to everyone that the police were to blame, they were suggesting money should go to them to pay for microwaves and holidays.

"People often think all of that money went to the families, but they are wrong. A lot of it went elsewhere. I feel that 96 people died for that money - and they wanted to use it for new microwaves. It's despicable."

Donations to the fund also came from organisations including Liverpool FC, the Government, and the cities of Sheffield, Liverpool and Nottingham.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt told the BBC that South Yorkshire Police was among a number of bodies approached by the fund's trustees.

He said: "As a result, South Yorkshire Police formally submitted a number of suggestions to the trustees of the Hillsborough Disaster Fund which included enhancing the quality of the police control rooms at Hillsborough and other football stadia to improve public safety and the policing of future football matches.

"Other suggestions included the provision of better equipment for the force's Casualty Bureau, the creation of an Occupational Health Unit and a number of community-based projects.

"In addition, a small number of other suggestions were made by individual officers and or staff at the time that included the provision of items of gymnasium equipment in police gyms to help maintain the health and fitness of officers, and the purchase of a holiday flat for use by officers and their families.

"I am not aware that any of the various suggestions succeeded in attracting funding."

New inquests into the 96 deaths are expected next year after the original verdicts of accidental death were quashed.