Cameron 'sorry' for 1989 soccer stadium disaster

Updated: 2012-09-13 14:33


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LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday he was "profoundly sorry" for failures and cover-ups in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough soccer disaster in which 96 spectators died after a crowd crush in the stadium.

Cameron 'sorry' for 1989 soccer stadium disaster

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the House of Commons after the publication of an independent report into the 1989 Hillsborough soccer disaster, in this still image taken from video, in London, Sept 12, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Cameron 'sorry' for 1989 soccer stadium disaster

Three soccer fans are suspended in mid-air at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, northern England in the file photo taken on April 5, 1989. [Photo/] 

He was speaking as an independent report found that police at the time had scrambled to deflect the blame for Britain's worst sporting disaster onto Liverpool soccer fans to cover up their own flawed response.

The victims died in an overcrowded fenced-in enclosure at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, northern England, a tragedy that changed the face of English soccer and ushered in a new era of modern, all-seated stadiums.

Britain was shocked by harrowing images of young fans crushed against metal fences, bodies lying on the pitch and spectators using wooden advertising hoardings as makeshift stretchers on a warm Spring afternoon.

The report, issued after a two-year investigation into the deaths, said police had sought to blame the Liverpool fans, portraying them as aggressive, drunk and ticketless and bent on packing into the already crowded stadium.

"The tragedy should never have happened," the report's authors said in a statement. "There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and in its aftermath there were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto the fans."

Senior police edited their officers' witness statements from the day to paint them in a less damaging light, the report said. Their emergency response was flawed and badly organized.

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