Hillsborough: South Yorkshire police ‘tried to spin’ inquests evidence
Exclusive: Media officer employed by force says she was instructed to emphasise allegations of fans’ misbehaviour to press
South Yorkshire police sought to influence media reporting of the recent inquests into the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough disaster and secure positive coverage, according to a former communications specialist employed by the embattled force.
Hayley Court told the Guardian she was instructed to emphasise evidence considered favourable to the force to journalists attending the hearings, including allegations of misbehaviour by Liverpool supporters.
Hillsborough inquests: South Yorkshire police ‘spin’ evidence
A former South Yorkshire Police press officer claimed she was asked to “spin” news during the Hillsborough inquests, the BBC can reveal.
Hayley Court was employed by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) just after the hearings began in 2014.
Documents seen by BBC News show she was told a “performance issue” was her “failure” to “redress the imbalance” in the media’s reporting of the inquests.
SYP said her claims of “unethical practice” were “not substantiated”.
‘Fed a line’
Ms Court, 30, was taken on as the force’s Hillsborough communications specialist with a salary of more than £50,000 but has since left.
She said when she took the job she had hoped to illustrate the SYP force of 2014, when the inquests began, was not the same as it had been in 1989 – the year of the disaster.