Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989. (Reuters)
Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989. (Reuters)

The former Sun journalist who wrote the infamous 1989 Hillsborough football disaster article titled 'The Truth' says he was "aghast" when he saw the headline.

Harry Arnold's article about the disaster, which killed 96 Liverpool supporters at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, included accusations that Liverpool fans urinated on and pick-pocketed the bodies of the dead, and attacked police trying to alleviate the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.

However, in a new documentary for the BBC, Arnold insists he made clear that the accusations were merely allegations, and wrote in a "fair and balanced" way about the disaster.

Arnold also maintains that the 'Truth' headline was concocted solely by the then-editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie.

The Sun's coverage of the disaster resulted in a Merseyside boycott of the paper, which continues to this day.

'You can't say that'

During the documentary, which is entitled Hillsborough: Searching for the Truth, Arnold says: "On the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie was the rather controversial editor at the time. He liked to write his own headlines.

"He wrote the headline 'The Truth', and the reason I know that is I was about to leave the newsroom when I saw him drawing up the front page.

"When I saw the headline 'The Truth' I was aghast, because that wasn't what I'd written.

"I'd never used the words 'this is the truth about the Hillsborough disaster'. I'd merely written, I hoped and I still believe, in a balanced and fair way.

"So I said to Kelvin MacKenzie, 'You can't say that'. And he said 'Why not?' and I said, 'because we don't know that it's the truth. This is a version of 'the truth'.

"He brushed it aside and said, 'Oh don't worry. I'm going to make it clear that this is what some people are saying'."

The programme also contains an interview with a police officer who was on duty at the game. He says he did not see any Liverpool fans behaving in the way The Sun described.

The officer says: "I didn't see any Liverpool fans urinating on a police officer, or any police officers, and I didn't see any Liverpool fans steal money, steal money from dead people or pick money up that had fallen out of people's pockets.

"I didn't see that. And it probably didn't happen."

The documentary is to be broadcast on BBC1 in Yorkshire and the North West on 9 September at 10.25pm.

The families of those who died during the Hillsborough disaster have been told they will see the police and government files on the tragedy on 12 September.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP), which has analysed more than 400,000 documents from 80 organisations concerning the disaster, have confirmed they will hand over the papers following a concerted appeal for full disclosure, led by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

The documents caused controversy earlier this year after some of the papers were leaked to the BBC.