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Issue #1569      17 October 2012

Police face massive Hillsborough probe

Serving and former police officers could face manslaughter and gross misconduct charges over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said last week.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will investigate what happened on the day of the tragedy and during the cover-up afterwards. Ninety-six people were killed by the crush at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield on April 15 1989 during a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The damning report published by the independent Hillsborough panel last month found that South Yorkshire Police doctored statements to remove criticism of the policing operation that day and attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy onto those who died.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said: “I think I can confidently say this will be the largest independent inquiry that has been launched into the actions of the police in the United Kingdom.” She said it would focus on what happened at the stadium and the cover-up afterwards.

West Midlands Police, who investigated how South Yorkshire handled the disaster, will also come under scrutiny. Ms Glass said: “A large number of current and former officers will be under investigation, including Sir Norman Bettison, whose conduct was referred by the West Yorkshire Police Authority.”

Sir Norman, currently Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, has been referred to the IPCC over allegations that he provided misleading information after the tragedy.

He is also under investigation for allegations that he “attempted to influence the decision-making process of the West Yorkshire Police Authority in connection with the referral that they had made.”

Mr Starmer said prosecutors “should consider all the material now available in relation to the tragic events on April 15, 1989,” including material from the Hillsborough panel.

“All potential offences that may have been committed and all potential defendants will be considered,” he said. Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman Margaret Aspinall welcomed the announcement.

She said it was important to get to the bottom of the matter “because I think the country has been shamed by what has gone on over Hillsborough” over the past 23 years.

Morning Star  

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