The BBC has issued an apology following a number of complaints from viewers over an episode of EastEnders in which a gang wrecks the Queen Vic pub in a bid to find Jase Dyer.

The following line of dialogue was spoken by regular character Minty, played by Cliff Parisi: “Five years out of Europe because of Heysel, because they penned you lot in to stop you fighting on the pitch, and then what did we end up with – Hillsborough.”

The line prompted a huge protest from members of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, as well as Liverpool FC fans.

Members of the group claim that the reference was irrelevant, while the dialogue was said to be “ignorant, ill informed and without justification,” in a comment posted on the Liverpool FC website.

In a statement, the BBC said: “In Tuesday night’s EastEnders, Minty was actually reminding Jase that football hooliganism at Heysel led directly to the fencing-in of fans at football matches.

“He points out this had tragic consequences – for the innocent spectators at Hillsborough. The BBC apologises if this remark was misinterpreted or caused any offence.”

The harrowing scenes also prompted other viewers to complain about the levels of violence depicted.