Nuttall admits he did not lose ‘close friends’ at Hillsborough

Media captionPaul Nuttall was shown the comments on his website, which he said were not accurate and not published by him

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has admitted that past claims that he lost “close personal friends” in the Hillsborough disaster were incorrect.

He told Liverpool’s Radio City he was not responsible for statements on his website in 2011 and 2012 claiming this.

He told the station it was “someone he knew” who had died in the 1989 tragedy.

The MEP, who is standing in the Stoke Central by-election, said those casting doubt on whether he was at Hillsborough that day were “cruel and nasty”.

Mr Nuttall, who was 12 at the time of the disaster, has long said he attended the match with his father and two uncles.

A recent article in the Guardian quoted a number of people – including an unnamed former classmate and two Labour politicians – questioning why he had not spoken about his experience.

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Radio City

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Paul Nuttall was 12 at the time of the Hillsborough disaster

In a press release on his website in August 2011, the Bootle born politician urged the government to release files on Hillsborough – in which 96 Liverpool supporters died.

He was quoted as saying: “Without them being made public we will never get to the bottom of that appalling tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans including close personal friends of mine lost their lives.”

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The claim was made on the MEP’s website in 2011

In a second press release published six months later, he was quoted as saying: “I lost close friends at the match and understand as well as anyone how deep the scars of that tragedy go”.

‘Angry’

Pressed on the 2012 statement during an interview on Tuesday, Mr Nuttall conceded the references to the loss of close friends were not accurate.

“I haven’t lost a close personal friend, he said. “I’ve lost someone who I know,” adding that the connection had been a football one.

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Getty Images

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Hillsborough was the worst sporting disaster in British history

He said the statements – which have been taken down – had not “come from him”, adding “I haven’t put that out, that is wrong.”

The MEP has said he is “hurt, angry and disgusted” after doubts were cast on whether he was present at the Sheffield stadium at all on the day of the disaster.

He said he had provided two written statements to the Guardian testifying to his presence and could “provide more” but accused the paper of “twisting” the story.

He told Radio City: “I want to make it perfectly clear that I was there that day. I have witnesses who will stand up in court to back me 100%.

“It is cruel and nasty and is making out that my family are lying as well.”

Labour apology

In the article, it was reported two people, a childhood friend and a former teacher, could not recall Mr Nuttall ever mentioning he had been at the stadium disaster.

The paper also carried a quote from the Hillsborough Family Support Group questioning why he had not offered any support.

Mr Nuttall was elected UKIP leader in November, having served as Nigel Farage’s deputy for many years.

On Monday, Mr Nuttall’s Labour opponent in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election apologised for posting a series of abusive tweets about women.

In 2010, Gareth Snell described panellists on ITV’s Loose Women as “squabbling sour-faced ladies”.

He also made remarks about Janet Street-Porter and a woman on BBC’s The Apprentice. In a statement, Mr Snell said he regretted sending the tweets.

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