1. ITV Report

Paul Nuttall: Ukip leader 'appalled' at false Hillsborough claim on his website

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has said he is "appalled and very sorry" at a false claim on his personal website that he lost close personal friends in the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Nuttall, who said he attended the fateful FA Cup match, was questioned during a radio interview about his account of the 1989 disaster that claimed 96 lives.

In a statement Mr Nuttall insisted that he did not see the article about Hillsborough before it was posted, and he was "genuinely taken aback when this claim was brought to my attention".

As a 12 year old boy I travelled to Sheffield that day, as did so many others to enjoy watching the team that I loved. From the upper tier of the Leppings Lane End of the Hillsborough Stadium I watched the events of that day unfold with horror.

Today I was made aware of an article on my website which claimed I had lost people close to me at Hillsborough. This was an article that I did not write and did not see prior to is being posted by a member of my staff.

Of course I take responsibility for those things that are put out under my name, but I was genuinely taken aback when this claim was brought to my attention and am both appalled and very sorry that an impression was given that was not accurate.

Like everybody connected to the Hillsborough disaster, memories of 15th April 1989 bring me nothing but pain and upset. Having now clarified my involvement with those events I intend to focus my energies and efforts on working to represent the people of Stoke on Trent Central in the way in which they deserve.

– Statement from Paul Nuttall
Some 96 supporters lost their lives in the crushing tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989. Credit: PA

Mr Nuttall's press officer, Lynda Roughley, who has said she wrote the offending Hillsborough post has now offered to resign over the matter.

In a statement she said she was "entirely responsible".

It's me who has made this mistake, and one I feel absolutely terrible about.

I am frankly mortified at the distress this issue has caused Paul and may have caused to anyone involved with the Hillsborough tragedy.

I have today offered my resignation, I could not be more sorry.

– Lynda Roughley statement

During the earlier interview Mr Nuttall strongly denied writing the claim on his website, telling Liverpool station Radio City Talk: "I haven't put that out, that is wrong."

He added: "I haven't lost a close personal friend, I've lost someone who I know."

The passage was included in a 2011 entry in which Mr Nuttall called for the Government to release files on Hillsborough.

He was quoted as writing: "Without them being made public we will never get to the bottom of that appalling tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans including close personal friends of mine lost their lives."

Mr Nuttall also hit out at a report in The Guardian which questioned whether he had attended the game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April, 1989.

In the interview with radio presenter Dave Easson he compared The Guardian's article to the notorious coverage in The Sun following the Hillsborough disaster.

"What's happening to me now, in many ways, is a national newspaper is doing precisely what happened to the people there on the day," he said.

Paul Nuttall said he attended the fateful match with his father and uncles at the age of 12. Credit: PA

"When The Sun told those lies, I've now got The Guardian doing precisely the same to me."

He told reporters on Monday he had provided two written statements to the newspaper and could "provide more" but accused the publication of having "twisted" the story.

He previously said he was "hurt, angry and disgusted" by the Guardian article, which quoted Mr Nuttall's childhood friend and a former teacher.

Neither could recall him ever mentioning he had been at the stadium disaster.

The paper also carried a quote from the Hillsborough Family Support Group questioning why he had not offered any support.

Mr Nuttall, who would have been 12 at the time of the disaster, has said he was at the match with his father and two uncles.