Families fear Hillsborough disaster images could be used against them by trolls

ITV Granada Reports correspondent Andy Bonner has spoken to families of Hillsborough victims.

A woman who lost her brother in the Hillsborough disaster fears evidence from a police investigation could be used by online trolls if it is made public.

15 April 2024 marks 35 years since the crush, which led to 97 Liverpool FC fans being unlawfully killed and many more being injured.

The Home Office is now looking at adding material, including images and videos from the day, to the National Archives.

But Louise Brookes, who lost her brother Andrew, is concerned about pictures taken of him at the time being made available to anyone.

She said, "Andrew was one of the most photographed people on the day.

"I've seen Andrew dying in the pen and I know there's at least one photograph of Andrew being stretchered across the pitch and he's completely exposed.

"I'm really struggling with it and I do not want that in the public domain."

The Home Secretary said all material would be assessed and reviewed for sensitivity Credit: PA

The Home Secretary, James Cleverly MP, has written to families explaining that records from Operation Resolve, the most recent criminal investigation into the disaster, are being considered for the National Archive.

The official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales, says it holds over 1,000 years of history and offers online access, exhibitions, events, and research services.

Mr Cleverly said the ambition "is to provide the public with as much transparency and ease of access to information pertaining to the disaster as possible."

He added that "careful consideration is being given to what is appropriate” to be made public.

However, following a spate of trolling incidents on social media, some of the Hillsborough families are fearful that the images will be used against them and are objecting to any photographs of their loved ones at Hillsborough being included.

Chrissie Burke, who lost her father Henry, said, "My fears are of this archive material getting in the wrong hands.

"It's not right that somebody can just go online [to access the images].

"I know they say they have to do this because it's educational [but] I have never been able or allowed to properly grieve for my dad because I feel like he is public property.

"But he's not. He's our dad."

Photographs were taken showing Henry Burke lying unattended on his back on the pitch at Hillsborough after the crush.

Louise is one of those to bear the brunt of the trolls.

In 2023, she was in court to see a man sentenced for sending abusive and offensive tweets to her.

She has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and said the trolling, which already often features some images from the disaster, is out of control and only makes matters worse.

"I already have serious concerns that people will just take those photographs and use them basically as a weapon against us bereaved families and the survivors.

"I don't have an issue with witness statements or anything like that being released.

"The issue I've got is my brother's dignity and I do not want to be seeing my brother's photo being used to score points against Liverpool fans."

A Home Office spokesperson said, "The Home Office has legal obligations under the Public Records Act 1958 for the care of its records – those of historic value and deemed worthy of permanent preservation, such as those produced by Operation Resolve, must be transferred to The National Archives.

"Last month the Home Secretary wrote to the Hillsborough families to update them on progress, and has committed to provide further updates in advance of any information being released to the public. "We recognise that some of Operation Resolve’s material will be especially personal to those who lost loved ones in the disaster, and are committed to affording dignity and respect to the deceased and to their families.

"Very careful consideration is being given to what is appropriate to be placed into the public domain, in line with all statutory requirements”.

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