Radio presenter Adrian Chiles has told listeners he is “absolutely mortified” that he failed to challenge a lawyer over “evil nonsense” claims he made on his show about Liverpool fans causing a “riot” ahead of the Hillsborough Disaster.
Jonathan Goldberg QC spoke to Chiles on BBC Radio 5 Live on 26 May after his client Peter Metcalf, who was solicitor for South Yorkshire Police in 1989, was cleared of perverting the course of justice following the disaster.
On 27 May, Chiles made a lengthy apology, saying he had been a “fool” not to pick the QC up on his comments.
He said he reported the end of the inquests into the tragedy in 2016 and that he knew:
as much as anyone that it was absolute nonsense, and proved to be nonsense several times in the past, that Liverpool fans themselves were in any way culpable for what happened.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Chiles said that “calamitously and incompetently” he was momentarily distracted during the interview and did not hear Goldberg make the comments, which caused uproar among the families of those who died in 1989.
I’m absolutely mortified with myself.
And he added:
I absolutely know it was just evil nonsense and I apologise for not picking him up there and then. But, honestly, I was fool not a knave on this one. Have a go at me for incompetence, please, and I deserve it. I just didn’t hear it.
Chiles said: “If I had heard it, I don’t think I would have believed my ears.”
Goldberg said on the show:
My client was accused of covering up criticism of the police. What he in fact did was cut out criticism of the Liverpool fans, whose behaviour was perfectly appalling on the day, causing a riot that led to the gate having to be opened, that unfortunately let the people in and crushed to death the innocents as they were – complete innocents – who were at the front of the pens, who had arrived early and were not drunk and were behaving perfectly well.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who has campaigned with the Hillsborough families, said:
There is no evidence of any riot outside that ground and the fact somebody who is a Queen’s Counsel should go on the media and make those statements, they are inaccurate statements.
They are intended to smear the supporters of this football club all over again, they are intended to smear the people of this city all over again.
Dragged through the mud again
Campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said:
They tried to bring our fans into it again at this trial when we have already cleared their names and to me that is so sad.
Fans were exonerated of causing any part in the disaster following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in 2012.
Then prime minister David Cameron told the House of Commons:
A narrative about hooliganism on that day was created that led many in the country to accept that somehow it was a grey area.
Today’s report is black and white: the Liverpool fans ‘were not the cause of the disaster’.
However, less than two years later, at a preliminary hearing for the new inquests in 2014, lawyers representing police officers said they would make the suggestion that drunken fans contributed to the disaster. In 2016, the inquests jury concluded the behaviour of supporters did not cause or contribute to the dangerous situation which built up outside the ground on April 15 1989.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?