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UKIP leader Paul Nuttall gives Hillsborough statement

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has been interviewed as part of the criminal inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Nuttall, who is standing in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, told the BBC he spent “three hours” on Monday giving a witness statement to Operation Resolve.

He was interviewed after he said he attended the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

The MEP faced a fierce backlash earlier this month over false claims he lost close friends in the tragedy.

‘Insult’

During a by-election hustings on BBC Five Live, he insisted he had since apologised to the “people that matter” for 2011 and 2012 claims on his website.

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall previously told LBC radio the errors were “an insult” to people who did lose somebody on that day.

Asked if he would make a general apology to the people of Liverpool, Mr Nuttall said: “I want to put this in perspective. I didn’t check something which went up on my website.

“It’s not as if I’ve taken illegally from the public purse. It’s not as if I’ve said something racist, it’s not as if I have sent people to war.”

‘Unprofessional’

Ninety-six people died as a result of the crush at the game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

On Monday, Liverpool and Merseyside UKIP chairmen Stuart Monkham and Adam Heatherington quit the party in protest, saying Mr Nuttall’s comments were “unprofessional”.

They also criticised UKIP’s millionaire backer Arron Banks, who caused further anger when he said he was “sick to death” of hearing about Hillsborough.

‘Horror’

Mr Nuttall said he was at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster as a 12-year-old boy with his father and two uncles.

He said: “From the upper tier of the Leppings Lane End, I watched the events of that day unfold with horror.

“Like everybody connected to the Hillsborough disaster, memories of 15 April 1989 bring me nothing but pain and upset.”

Operation Resolve is one of two criminal investigations ordered following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in 2012.

An Operation Resolve spokesman said: “Our role is to investigate the causes of the Hillsborough disaster and to establish whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable and, in that context, Mr Nuttall met criteria for taking a statement.”

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