1. ITV Report

Hillsborough Inquests hear how PC had his statement altered

The control box at Hillsborough Stadium Photo: Hillsborough Inquests

A court's heard how a police constable's thoughts about a potential cause of the Hillsborough disaster were removed from his official statement.

The court heard that questions directed to Alan Ramsden's superior officers were never answered.

The fresh inquests into the 1989 disaster heard that the retired PC had two sections of his initial account struck from subsequent, more official versions.

That, he agreed, had fundamentally affected the tenor of his account. One deleted section read:

My overall observations of the disaster will take many, many years to come to terms with.

One thing that has gnawed at me was feeling so useless, people were crying for help and we could do nothing.

"As part of my normal duty I work the Police Control at Millmoor and fully appreciate the problems of working a football match control.

But one thing has concerned me, was that the pure location of the Control Box at Hillsborough overlooks the area where the tragedy took place. "Were not the officers appreciative of the developing situation?

What was the feed back from the officers working the perimeter of the pitch?

Couldn’t they not see the developing crush on the terraces?

– Deleted section from PC Alan Ramsden's initial account
Hillsborough stadium Credit: PA

Mr Ramsden agreed that he was never given answers to questions he was asking his superior officers just weeks after the disaster.

The witness told the court how he had policed a "semi-sterile area" outside the perimeter gates at a previous semi-final to check for tickets and weapons.

A passage suggesting there should have been a similar area in 1989 was also deleted from subsequent statements.

Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, asked the witness if he approved the removal of that section.

"No," he replied. "It was my statement and nobody ever spoke to me about it or said that they would take it out…. I wanted it in my statement."

Fans head to Hillsborough stadium ahead of the disaster Credit: Hillsborough Inquests

The court heard that officers were told hearsay and opinion would have to be removed from any statements.

He agreed with Anna Morris, a barrister acting on behalf of some of the bereaved families, that he was noting down what he thought was potentially part of the causes of the disaster.

However, the witness said today's hearing was essentially the first time the issue had come to light.

Earlier, Mr Ramsden described feeling "outnumbered" and being lifted off his feet by the sheer numbers of people outside the Leppings Lane entrance as a crush occurred.

He said a delay to the time of the kick-off would certainly have helped.

He added: "They [the fans] just seemed hell-bent on getting into the ground... Inspector Ellis appeared with a megaphone and again they took no notice but they just continued to push, to push towards the turnstile."

He also described seeing a bus in Leppings Lane at a time when he thought public transport had been stopped from entering.

"It was like driving a line of people back towards the turnstiles. The bus was pushing the people.

They had to get out of the way... It didn't help one bit. It made the situation worse," he said.

Fans head to Hillsborough stadium ahead of the disaster Credit: Hillsborough Inquests

Mr Ramsden later admitted that he had signed the final amended version of his statement.

Barrister Chris Daw QC, representing two retired chief superintendents who gathered evidence after the disaster, showed the court a copy of the account with the witness's signature at the foot of the page.

The jury heard, however, that he could not remember signing or initialing the document.

He described the original written account as "a self-counselling thing." Mr Daw asked: "When you sat down at home, for however long that took, were you thinking to yourself ‘This is going to be a document that is used in evidence, as a witness statement in evidence’?"

He replied: "No I didn't. As I originally mentioned, I thought it was just self-counselling, a way of coming to terms with the day."

John Beggs QC, representing three retired match commanders, suggested the reason for a semi-sterile area in 1987 was because a fatality had occurred at a previous Leeds United game.

The witness accepted the reasoning. He agreed that he had exercised some initiative to set up a cordon in 1987 beyond the police operational order.

Regarding the response from the police control box, Mr Ramsden accepted that there may have been officers feet away from the tragedy who may have not realised "the horror that was unfolding".

However, he told Paul Greaney QC, representing the Police Federation, that he saw "quite a few bobbies" working on getting the pen fencing down.The lawyer asked whether the previous match commander, Chief Superintendent Brian Mole, would have been better equipped on the day to make the decisions that needed to be made.

He replied: "He was an experienced officer. I would tend to agree with that."

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