The former deputy chief constable of West Yorkshire Police who now leads a neighbouring force has apologised for an “inappropriate and insensitive” e-mail about the Hillsborough disaster.

David Crompton, who left his role in West Yorkshire in early 2012 to become Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, sent an e-mail to colleagues in which he claimed a group representing the families of the victims of the football tragedy created an untrue version of events.

He also described the South Yorkshire force as becoming “roadkill” if it was not more innovative in its response to the Hillsborough Independent Panel report published last year.

The e-mail was disclosed after a freedom of information request.

Mr Crompton said the e-mail, sent to his assistant chief constable and head of press and communications, was not meant to cause offence.

He said: “The e-mail from last September was written prior to the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

“It was never intended to cause any offence and I apologise if it has done so. Nor was it intended to challenge the integrity and views of those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster.

“Following the publication of the panel’s report, I said in the most forthright terms that I supported the findings and that is still my position.”

The e-mail discussed how the force could use its website to respond to the findings of the panel.

It said: “One thing is certain, the Hillsborough Campaign for Justice will be doing their version ... in fact, their version of certain events has become ‘the truth’ even though it isn’t!!

“I just have the feeling that the media ‘machine’ favours the families, so we need to be a bit more innovative in our response to have a fighting chance otherwise we will just be roadkill.”

Shaun Wright, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, said he had informed the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Home Secretary about the e-mail.

He said he was “disappointed” in the language used and had raised his concerns with Mr Crompton.

Mr Wright said: “The e-mail uses language that could be construed as inappropriate and insensitive, especially for the families of those so tragically killed on that day.

Mr Wright added: “As police and crime commissioner, it is my duty to hold the Chief Constable and the force to account in the interests of the public. I accept the Chief Constable’s regret for his language in this one particular e-mail and his apology.”