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Hillsborough police under investigation

LARGE numbers of police officers, including a serving chief constable, are being investigated over the Hillsborough disaster, in the UK's the biggest ever inquiry into police action.

Police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said serving and former officers would be investigated over what happened on the day of the tragedy in 1989 and during the alleged cover-up afterwards.

These include the current Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettison, who has been accused of supplying misleading information after the disaster and trying to influence the local police authority.



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The UK's Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said he would also look at whether any individual or corporate body should be charged over the football stadium disaster, which left 96 people dead.

The announcement was welcomed by relatives of the 96 victims as well as public figures in Liverpool.

Margaret Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James in the tragedy and is chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "Obviously they are going to look back at all the serving policemen on that day, and I think that is a great thing to do because there were so many involved as part of that cover-up."

A report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel published last month claimed a cover-up was staged in order to shift blame onto the 96 victims.

It alleged that 164 police statements were altered in the wake of the tragedy, 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the match.

Questions have also been raised over whether manslaughter charges should be brought over the deaths, which happened at a FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The deputy chairwoman of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, said that "without a shadow of a doubt" the probe would be the biggest ever carried out into police behaviour in the UK.

"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 UK," she said.

Allegations that statements were altered and that misleading information was passed to the media and MPs will be investigated and could lead to police misconduct and criminal charges, Ms Glass said.

hnews@herald.ie


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