Sir Irvine Patnick has apologised for the “wholly inaccurate” he passed on to journalists (Reuters)
Sir Irvine Patnick has apologised for the “wholly inaccurate” he passed on to journalists (Reuters) Reuters

A Conservative MP named as one of the sources behind The Sun's controversial coverage of the Hillsborough disaster has apologised for the "wholly inaccurate" information he passed on.

Sir Irvine Patnick, formerly MP for Sheffield Hallam, said he was "appalled" at the extent of the cover-up following the disaster and is "deeply and sincerely sorry" for the part he played in the scandal.

Patnick, 82, added he "totally" accepted responsibility for passing on the "misleading and plain wrong" claims, which alleged drunk Liverpool fans urinated on victims of the disaster and attacked police attempting to give the kiss of life.

The claims led to the Sun newspaper running the false accusations on their front page under the headline 'The Truth'.

In a statement published on the Conservative website, Patnick said: "I would like to put on the record how appalled and shocked I was to discover the extent of the deceit and cover-up surrounding these events.

"It is now clear that the information I received from some police officers at the time was wholly inaccurate, misleading and plain wrong.

"However, I totally accept responsibility for passing such information on without asking further questions. So, many years after this tragic event, I am deeply and sincerely sorry for the part I played in adding to the pain and suffering of the victims' families."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) named Patnick as one of the sources who briefed journalists that Liverpool fans were "drunk and aggressive" and were largely responsible for the deaths of 96 people on April 1989.

The panel revealed that The Sun's 'Truth' article was based on a piece sent by White's News Agency, based on interviews with Patnick and Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation.

Patnick confirmed he heard the false accounts of fans' conduct from officers policing the game.

There have been calls for Patnick to be stripped of his knighthood following the panel's revelations.

Labour MP John Mann wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron saying his knighthood should be removed "immediately" following his "shameful" role in the aftermath of the disaster.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he has written to Sir Bob Kerslake, chair of the Honours Forfeiture Committee, to also ask for his honour to be stripped.

Long line of apologies

Patnick is the latest in a long line of people and organisations to apologise for their role in the disaster and the subsequent cover-up.

The Sun newspaper said it was "profoundly sorry" to the victims and their families on the front page of the paper.

Former editor of the Sun Kelvin MaKenzie, who was responsible for the 'Truth' headline, also apologised after 23 years, adding he had been apologised and said he had been "totally misled".

Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday said he was "very, very sorry" for a 2004 Spectator article in which he blamed "drunken Liverpool fans" who "tried to fight their way into the ground" for the disaster.

FA chairman David Bernstein said he was "deeply sorry" this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected.

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