Monday 11 December 2017

Criminal investigation into Hillsborough disaster launched

A criminal investigation into the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago was launched today to ensure no body responsible for the tragedy escapes scrutiny.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said that while the families have been given the truth, “they have not yet received justice”.

The investigation will work closely with the police watchdog and is expected to focus on organisations other than the police, including Sheffield Wednesday football club, Sheffield City Council, the Football Association and engineers at the ground.

It will focus specifically on the deaths of the Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989 and comes as Dominic Grieve QC, the Attorney General, urged the High Court to quash the original accidental death inquest verdicts.

He made his application to the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in a packed London courtroom.

Mrs May said: “The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were truly shocking, but while the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice.

“I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf.”

The new criminal investigation will be led by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart, “a skilled and dedicated investigator who will bring a huge amount of policing experience to this demanding job”, Mrs May added.

“This investigation will ensure no body with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.”

Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit his own investigators but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster, nor those who have worked in West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside forces.

He said: “My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies.

“I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.

“My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.

By Wesley Johnson

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