1. ITV Report

Hillsborough officer accused of lying under oath

The police control box at Hillsborough. Photo: Hillsborough Inquests

A former constable has been accused of lying under oath after a note that officers had called for the central tunnel to be closed was "wiped from the history of Hillsborough".

Trevor Bichard was present with senior officers in the police control box as the 1989 disaster unfolded.

An inquests jury heard a log made by Mr Bichard on the day after the disaster, recorded that a message was received at 2.55pm from officers at the rear of the crowded Leppings Lane terrace calling for gates to be shut at the back of the tunnel.

The court heard the message came four minutes before anyone was seen climbing on to the pitch.

Mr Bichard, who gave evidence to the original inquests and the Taylor Inquiry, agreed the note had not been transposed from the original log.

Asked what the reaction in the control box was to that message, he replied: "I don't know because for 23, 24 years I have believed there was no discussion about the tunnel [in the police control box]."

Brenda Campbell, representing twelve of the bereaved families, asked: "If it is in your log, it happened. Don't you agree?"

He replied: "If it’s in that log and that’s a genuine copy of my log, yes, I have typed it in there and that must have been what was in my mind, yes."

She continued: "Under whose words did you lie to Lord Justice Taylor eight weeks later?"

"I have never lied. I have always had honest-held beliefs," he responded.

Ms Campbell then asked: "You accept, don’t you, that a request three minutes before anybody climbs onto the pitch, 11 minutes before the match is stopped, to shut the gates at the Leppings Lane terrace and a request that is audible in the control box, is of critical importance?"

"Yes pivotal," he replied.

"It is highly unlikely to be something that you would forget in the days after Hillsborough?" she asked.

"I just don't know the answer to it," he replied. "I sit here feeling rather foolish that for 23 years – I have said that all the time. I have never said anything different throughout these events."

"On whose instruction, Mr Bichard, have you never said anything different?" she asked.

He replied: "Nobody has ever told me not to say anything or to say anything. Everything that I have said has been of my own volition. Nobody’s instructed me to lie. There is nothing that I have said that I didn't honestly believe."

"Let me tell you why you did lie," Ms Campbell went on. "This communication was received two minutes after those gates were opened at 2.55, four minutes before anyone tries to escape the pens, and at a time when 96 lives could have been saved. Do you agree?"

"Those lives could have been saved early, yes," he said

"You know, or were soon after this was typed up being made aware by your senior officers, that closing the tunnel could have saved lives and therefore, it has been wiped from the history of Hillsborough?" she said.

"I really just don't know what to say. There isn't an answer to it all… I have maintained that version of events as mine," he responded.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing ten bereaved families, asked: "Are we to assume that nothing happened in response to this message in the control box?"

The witness replied: "I don't know the answer to that because I don't even recall the message."

Mr Menon quizzed: "Can you provide any explanation for how that entry has mysteriously vanished from the next document, the log that formed the basis of your witness statement?"

"No, not at all," he replied.

The court heard that Mr Bichard received a visit from a plain clothes officer from the Complaints and Discipline department of South Yorkshire Police when he was typing up his initial notes on 16th April 1989.

Pete Weatherby QC, a barrister acting on behalf of 22 families, said: "You hadn't done anything wrong. Is it possible that they were there to make sure you weren't about to do anything wrong?

Mr Bichard replied: "I really don't know because it’s an event that happened. It stands in my mind. I remember being there and I know that’s where I started typing documents up. I remember the person coming, but not the content of it."

Fiona Barton QC, acting on behalf of South Yorkshire Police, later told the court that Mr Bichard's log made on 16th April 1989 had been "carefully retained" by the force and formed part of the Hillsborough archive.

She said it was disclosed to the Hillsborough Independent Panel and is on their website.

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