THE brother of a second generation Irishman killed in the Hillsborough tragedy is maddened by the suggestion that drunkenness on the part of Liverpool fans contributed to the disaster.
Steve Kelly, whose brother Mick died in the crush in Sheffield in 1989, has accused police officers due to give evidence at inquests into the disaster later this month “of playing the only card they got” in respect of the suggestion.
“I always said if I got the truth I’d walk away a happy man,” Mr Kelly told The Irish Post.
“But the more the truth is coming out, the angrier I’m getting. It’s unbelievable. They’ve played the only card they got. It was bad management [that led to the disaster].”
Mr Kelly said he watched the proceedings in London at a court in Liverpool and that many present “went berserk” when it was revealed that alcohol intake would again be raised as something to consider in respect of the disaster that killed 96 people.
Paul Greaney QC, representing the Police Federation, said he did not anticipate making the suggestion that the blood alcohol levels of the victims played any part in the disaster, but he said he did not want to steer witnesses away from talking about alcohol consumption.
Pete Weatherby, representing the 22 families from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC), said: “The difficulty that we foresee and the reason we commissioned Professor Jones' report is that some interested parties might seek to highlight or rely on intoxication issues regarding not the deceased but supporters.”
He added: “In those circumstances we believe this evidence is only objective evidence of alcohol use.”
The hearing also heard that expert evidence suggested handheld police footage from the day had been edited.
The full inquests, which start on March 31, are expected to finish around December, although some lawyers suggested the hearings could run in to 2015.