Hillsborough slurs worker sacked

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Respects paid at the Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield on the 24th anniversary of the disaster. Pic by Alice Kirkland

Respects paid at the Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield. Pic by Alice Kirkland

A civil servant based on Merseyside has been sacked after being found to be the culprit behind some of the offensive alterations to Wikipedia entries about the Hillsborough disaster.

The man is understood to be a 24-year-old junior administrator, who was born in London and lives in Liverpool, though Hillsborough campaigners have asked that his identity will not be made public.

He has been dismissed from his job for gross misconduct.

An inquiry was set up in April after the Liverpool Echo revealed that government-linked computers were used to make critical website comments about the 1989 tragedy.

The Wikipedia changes included the words ‘Blame Liverpool fans’ – written in 2009 – in relation to the disaster, which claimed 96 lives. However, “technical obstacles” prevented an investigation from finding the source of that and other pre-2012 edits.

In 2012, the unnamed man altered the Wikipedia page for Hillsborough to parody Liverpool fans’ anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by making the words read ‘You’ll Never Walk Again’, adding “nothing for the victims of the Heysel disaster”.

He was traced after the Daily Telegraph and internet group Wikipediocracy cross-referenced his social media entries and work records.

A House of Commons statement by Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude read: “I was deeply distressed that, at a time when the hearings of the Hillsborough inquests were unfolding, the Civil Service was brought into disrepute by these edits.

“Our position from the very start has been that the amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service code and every canon of civilised conduct. It is entirely unacceptable.”

Hillsborough Family Support Group chair, Margaret Aspinall, revealed that the families agreed to keep the former government worker’s name anonymous.

She said: “He has been sacked, and we all took the decision not to name him because social media can be very unpleasant. The most important thing is that this has been dealt with and it has not been covered up. He has been punished.”

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