Hillsborough – DPP Asked To Expedite Decision; Susan Hemming to take Final Decisions – Jury verdict of unlawful killing: The Hillsborough Independent Panel’s Investigation – and correspondence from 1989 with the Police Complaints Authority and Government Ministers. April 1989 intervention in the House of Commons. April 27th 2016 Statement in the House of Lords; April 29th letter to the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service

 

Dear Mr.Okogwu

 

I would be grateful if you would thank the Director for this response.

 

I do find it astonishing that it will not be possible to decide more quickly – and certainly well before the end of the year.

 

I would have assumed you would have been receiving transcripts of the Inquest throughout the proceedings and would have been assessing them continually – particularly given the potential for some prosecution questions and the need for requisite decisions.

 

Given the extraordinary delays which have blighted the lives of the affected families for nearly three decades I would be grateful if you would convey my further request to expedite the decisions which must be taken.

 

Could you also indicate whether there is any linkage to the work of the continuing Hillsborough Inquiry and whether you will be asking the Inquiry team for sight of their preliminary findings and conclusions before arriving at your own decisions about how best to proceed.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David Alton

(Lord Alton of Liverpool),

 

Professor of Citizenship, Liverpool John Moores University,

Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords.

 

www.davidalton.net     altond@parliament.uk

 

0151 231 3852 (University); 0207 219 3551 (Parliament)

 

  • Hillsborough 3
  • http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm198889/cmhansrd/1989-04-17/Debate-1.htmlColumn 33: House of Commons April 17th 1989 Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill) : In the face of this terrible and wholly avoidable tragedy–many of the fatalities were young children, including a 13-year-old boy from my

    constituency–expressions of condolences and sympathy seem inadequate to sum up the enormity of it for a city that is mourning its dead and is united in its grief.

    A time will come when grief will give way to anger and questions will have to be answered. I should like an assurance from the Home Secretary that it will be made clear why the gate was opened and who took that decision. Why were emergency arrangements so pitifully inadequate? I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about the provision of seats in our national stadiums, but will he take urgent action to ensure that those terrible metal cages are put on the scrap heap and people are treated like human beings instead of animals? On 22 March, I wrote to the Minister about the ticket allocation for Saturday’s match. I enclosed a statement from Mr. Peter Robinson, the chief executive of Liverpool football ground, who said : “I made it plain that there was no way I could support the choice of Hillsborough this year with the same ticket allocations applying.”

    When I received a reply dated 11 April from the Minister of Sport, he said that the mater was entirely for the football authorities. In the light of what has happened, will the Home Secretary accept that the Minister should take an interest in this matter? Will he confirm that which the Minister said, that the allocations were made on the basis of police advice? I ask that because there have been conflicting statements in the past 24 hours.

    Liverpool is a city schooled in adversity. However, not since the blitz has it had to face a tragedy on such a shocking scale. I am sure that the House today will wish to express its solidarity with those who grieve and those awaiting news of loved ones, whose lives still lie in the balance.

    Mr. Hurd : All the points raised by the hon. Gentleman are clearly covered by the terms of reference of the inquiry, and Lord Justice Taylor will be able to look into them. I am slightly surprised that he suggests that Ministers should become involved in deciding, match by match, how tickets should be allocated. He is perfectly right in his understanding– these are matters for the football authorities. They consult on them and are guided by the police. I shall repeat my earlier point that, although the matter of total allocation will certainly be looked into, it was not the total allocation, so much as the concentration of that allocation in a part of the Liverpool terrace, which resulted in the terrible damage.

  • ———————————————————————-
  • Hillsborough Statement, House of Lords,  April 27th 2016
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
  • My Lords, during the 27 years that have elapsed since the Hillsborough disaster, the double spectre of loss and injustice has hung over the people of Liverpool. Among the 96 who died were former constituents of mine, including a child. Those deaths of loved ones were compounded by the denial of criminal negligence, callous indifference, the subversion of our justice system, collective character assassination and demonisation. If the Minister has had a chance to read the material I sent him this morning, including the letter I sent before the game was played at Hillsborough which questioned the safety of the ground, he will realise that there are still many unanswered questions. I would be grateful if he told us more about the timetabling of the continuing inquiry, which is being held with great diligence and meticulousness at Warrington; I have had a chance to visit it and talk to the people about the way they are going about their work. Will he also answer the question which the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, put to him a few moments ago about the further judicial proceedings that will be necessary and the timetabling for decisions? We certainly cannot wait another three decades.
  • Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
  • To take the noble Lord’s last question first, it would certainly be inappropriate for me to straitjacket the CPS in any respect, but the CPS, the two ongoing inquiries and everyone involved in them are fully aware of the sensitive nature of this issue. As we said, there is a responsibility on all involved in these inquiries to make sure that we reach a decision which ensures that justice prevails as soon as is possible and practicable, but it is very much for the CPS to lead on this. I confess that I have not had time to reflect on the detail of the information the noble Lord sent to me this morning, but I certainly will, and look forward to discussing it with him.

————————————————————————–

April 26th 2016: Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests have concluded.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36138337

 

The jury decided the match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield’s actions amounted to “gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care to fans.

Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final.

After a 27-year campaign by victims’ families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated.

The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s ground on 15 April 1989.

The jury also concluded

  • Police errors caused a dangerous situation at the turnstiles
  • Failures by commanding officers caused a crush on the terraces
  • There were mistakes in the police control box over the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates
  • Defects at the stadium contributed to the disaster
  • There was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough stadium
  • South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service delayed declaring a major incident
  • The emergency response was therefore delayed
  • Sheffield Wednesday failed to approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles for each pen
  • There was inadequate signage at the club and misleading information on match tickets

….

 

A statement on behalf of the families said the jury’s conclusions “completely vindicate” the long fight for justice.

 

 

The police response to the increasing crowd outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles at Liverpool’s match against Nottingham Forest was “slow and uncoordinated”, the inquests heard.

The road closure “exacerbated” the situation and there were no filter cordons in place to regulate the movement of spectators.

Attempts to close the perimeter gates were made too late and there were no contingency plans for the “sudden arrival” of a large number of fans, the jury said.

Jurors concluded the commanding officers should have ordered the closing of the tunnel which led directly to the central pens where the fatal crush occurred.

————————————————————————–

See:

https://davidalton.net/2015/05/05/two-columns-from-1989-following-the-hillsborough-disaster/

Also see: https://davidalton.net/2014/04/14/bishop-of-liverpool-and-david-alton-speak-on-the-hillsborough-disaster-2/

 

During a meeting this week, with members of the Hillsborough Independent Panel – http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/   –  which was established by the Prime Minister in 2012 , we spent a lot of our time discussing a letter which I had sent to Ministers prior to the match being played and which raised safety concerns about the ground.  The Panel also reminded me about – and showed me copies of the correspondence – which passed between me and the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority in the days which followed the April 15th, 1989, tragedy at Hillsborough: a day which claimed 96 lives and remains the most serious tragedy in UK sporting history.  The Independent Panel are painstakingly sifting through everything relating to Hillsborough, and deserve our admiration and thanks, but at this distance they have an almost impossible task – a task which should have been undertaken in the same objective and thorough manner twenty five years ago.

Letter to Sir Cecil Clothier, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, four days after the Hillsborough Disaster, asking for a him to open an independent Inquiry into attempts by Police spokesmen to blame the fans for their own deaths.

Letter to Sir Cecil Clothier, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, four days after the Hillsborough Disaster, asking for him to open an independent Inquiry into attempts by Police spokesmen to blame the fans for their own deaths.

Letter to Sir Cecil Clothier, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, on May 17th 1989, contesting the Authority's failure to mount an investigation

Letter to Sir Cecil Clothier, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, on May 17th,1989, contesting the Authority’s failure to mount an investigation

Letter from the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire saying he had done his best to "deflect" the complaint. Sir Cecil signs the letter  "Spike" - perhaps appropriately as it's a word used by journalists when an editors has decided to withhold a story from publication.

Letter from the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire saying he had done his best to “deflect” my complaint. Sir Cecil signs the letter “Spike” – perhaps appropriately as it’s a word used by journalists when an editor has decided to withhold a story from publication.

Hillsoborough Correspondence DA

Moynihan reply to DA & cutting

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster, I had a protracted correspondence with the Police Complaints Authority, challenging the remarks which had been made by Police Officers and repeated in mass circulation newspapers and the media that Liverpool Football Club fans were responsible for their own deaths and injuries. I called for an Independent Inquiry.  The correspondence has been published by the Hillsborough Independent Review (at http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000021980001.pdf) and it makes for deeply depressing reading.

Among the letters which were sent to me and which went to Sir Cecil Clothier, the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, was one from a constituent who was on the Leppings Lane Terrace and who provided a first-hand account of what he saw and experienced.  

The letter is dated April 19th 1989, just four days after the tragedy. He vividly describes what occurred and focuses on the description of events given by police officers to the media, saying those responsible “should be prosecuted for the hurt, distress and wounding caused on Merseyside by his untrue, insensitive, unproven slanderous remarks…”   

In my own letter to Sir Cecil, also dated April 19th, 1989, I asked him to “institute an immediate enquiry into the propriety of the remarks passed yesterday by Police Officers of the South Yorkshire Police Force” and that as the remarks had been made the day after the Home Secretary announced the judicial enquiry and “the solicitor for 30 of the victims’ families had begun proceedings against the Chief Constable and his Force these remarks should never have been made.”

I asked ”By what right did Police Officers make statements calculated to be prejudicial to the reputation of Liverpool Football Club and its supporters, and which seem to be part of a smokescreen of propaganda aimed at diverting attention from the truth.”

Quoting Lord Denning I reminded him that “Be they ever so mighty they are not mightier than the law” and I asked him to establish “how such statements came to be made and on whose authority they were issued.” I copied the letter to the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, and asked what guidelines existed for the publication of statements once a judicial inquiry had been announced.

In my next letter to Sir Cecil, five days later, on April 24th I asked his Police Complaints Authority to examine the conduct of the South Yorkshire Police – independently of the Government-established Inquiry by Lord Justice Taylor and the Police Inquiry to be led by the West Midlands Police Force because “you will be regarded as independent of Government and Constabulary, both of whom are clearly involved in having taken crucial decisions, which led to the horrific events at Sheffield.”

Sir Cecil wrote back on the 3rd of May refusing to conduct an investigation  and stated that “ I must say at once there is not the slightest ground for suggesting that an enquiry conducted under the authority of Lord justice Taylor will be other than the most rigorous and independent character.”  He suggested that the complainant would be better off “offering himself as a witness to Lord Justice Taylor’s enquiry, rather than by invoking the complaints procedure which is principally concerned with police discipline.”

The previous day, May 2nd, Sir Cecil wrote to me setting out the procedures for making a complaint and said “I am not sure whether you are making a formal complaint as a member of the public affected by the happenings at Hillsborough or as a Member of Parliament.”

He told me that if it was the latter I should raise my concerns in Parliament.

 I replied on May 8th stating that my complaint was made “as a citizen of Liverpool” who was “deeply aggrieved that these comments were made when two Inquiries had already been established, rendering their comments sub-judice.”

I told him that “Their remarks were prejudiced, contrary to good police practice, insensitive to relatives and damaging to my city. I therefore trust you will feel able to carry out an investigation as to how this could have come about.”

On the 16th of May Sir Cecil once again set out the procedures under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984, and told me “I believe it would be better by far to await the findings of Lord justice Taylor’s inquiry before lodging a complaint about controversial statements by a police officer.”

On the 17th of May I responded that if no action should be taken until after the Inquiry “by the same argument should not the officer who made the offensive comments about Liverpool supporters have kept his comments to himself until after the Inquiry?” 

I asked for him to investigate the South Yorkshire Force because, as the statements had been made anonymously, “there was no one officer to lodge a complaint about.” I told Sir Cecil that I had that day written to Peter Wright, the Chief Constable, lodging a formal complaint.

Among the letters which the Hillsborough Independent Review have also published is one sent on May 25th by Sir Cecil to Chief constable Peter Wright in which he encloses my own letters to him and referring to me he says “It appears that despite my best efforts to deflect him from doing so, he has decided to lodge a formal complaint with you.”

He tells him that he could “satisfy the statutory requirements“if he were simply to “appoint an investigating officer.”  He adds that “I do not think it would satisfy Mr. Alton however, who seems to think that Lord Justice Taylor and Mr. Dear are not sufficiently independent.” Signing his letter with his nickname, Spike, Sir Cecil Clothier copied this note to Lord Justice Taylor and Mr. Dear.   

In that respect he was, of course, right, I was not satisfied – and, more importantly, nor were the families who wanted justice and truth; and twenty five years later they remain convinced that they were lied to and subject to collective character assassination.  

Not as a citizen of Liverpool but as one of its MPs, I had, of course, also been raising the issue in Parliament but had met the same brick walls and prevarication.

Ministers said what had occurred at Hillsborough was a matter for the Chief Constable and for the Taylor Inquiry. In the House of Commons, on April 24th 1989, I asked “at what level the publication of statements on 18 April by South Yorkshire police concerning the conduct of Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough semi-cup final was authorised; if he will publish a copy of that statement and the name of the officer who made it; and if he will make a statement”.
The Minister of State at the Home Office, Douglas Hogg, replied:

“Statements made by officers of the South Yorkshire police are a matter for the chief constable. It would not be helpful for me to publish statements or counter-statements which have been made about the circumstances leading to the tragedy, or to name those who made them. It is for Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry to establish the facts”.-[Official Report, Commons, 24/4/89; col. 404.]

In the years which followed, I asked why those facts had not been established, why evidence had disappeared, and, in 1998, I asked  what account  Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, had taken “in deciding against a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy, of missing video tapes, changed statements by police officers, conflicting medical evidence and complaints of lack of impartiality in the original coroner’s process and in the granting of immunity from prosecution to police officers upon taking early retirement”. Ministers told me there was “no new evidence.” In 2012 I set out the reasons why this was not so:  https://davidalton.net/2012/12/16/bishop-of-liverpool-and-david-alton-speak-on-the-hillsborough-disaster/

More than two decades later the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in establishing the Hillsborough Independent Review, made it clear that he concurs.  

Mr Cameron told Parliament that the Liverpool fans had “suffered a double injustice”, both in the “failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth”.

What the diligent and painstaking work of the Independent Review team is now attempting to lay bare are not only the errors and deceits which occurred on that bleak day in April 1989 but the wanton and seemingly systematic attempts to delay, to obfuscate, and to refuse to truthfully address the questions which families and witnesses have consistently put to the authorities.

From time immemorial it has always been a tactic of Governments to set up committees in the hope of sending a contentious issue into the long grass and, with the passage of time, and the deaths of many of those who took wrong decisions or failed to do their jobs properly, their hope is that the ensuing reports will simply gather dust.  

G.K.Chesterton, writing about what passes for public accountability and parliamentary scrutiny, once mocked a self-serving process which relied on copious amounts of white-wash. In his “Autobiography: the case against corruption” he writes that “A parliamentary Commission was appointed and reported that everything was very nice; a Minority report was issued which reported that some things were not quite so nice; and political life (if you can call it life) went on as before.”

Those who are privileged to hold high office should understand that for those who died and for those who still bear the emotional scars of Hillsborough life didn’t go on “as before”. We must wish the Hillsborough Independent Panel well as they finally try to do what should have been done 25 years ago.


 

On April 29th 2016 a letter was sent to Alison Saunders, Director of the Crown Prosecution Service asking what the timetable and time scale will be in reaching decisions about what must happen next and whether she will be personally reviewing the findings of the Inquest.  

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Bishop of Liverpool and David Alton Speak On The Hillsborough Disaster

Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill
Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill
8th Report from the Constitution Committee
Second Reading: December 11th 2012

 

HillsboroughHillsborough4
The full debate is at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121211-0001.htm#12121158000507

4.32 pm
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, the report published on 12 September by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, meticulously examined every aspect of the disaster at the Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989, in which 90 men, women and children lost their lives.
The right reverend Prelate, from whom we will hear shortly, and those who worked with him deserve our gratitude and wholehearted appreciation. Their report exposed a number of significant failures and associated shortcomings in the investigation that followed the disaster. The welcome Bill before us today emerged from their findings. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, for the way in which he introduced the debate on what, as he said, is an exceptional Bill.
The Independent Panel’s report concluded that police and emergency services had made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the disaster on to fans. One hundred and sixty-four police statements had been altered, 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the match. The report also said that 41 of the 96 who had died had had the “potential to survive”-grounds, certainly, for ordering new inquests.
Lives that were lost can never be brought back but it has given significant comfort to those personally affected by Hillsborough that Parliament has at last recognised that a terrible tragedy was compounded by injustice and falsification, as the noble Lord said. Flawed and delayed investigations do significant damage to delicate and crucial finely balanced police-public relationships, and this Bill is a recognition of that. The Bill-and the new inquests-will allow the Independent Police Complaints Commission to bring some solace to the families and their supporters, whose signal resolution and dignity have been exemplary.
Twenty-three years ago, one of my saddest duties as a Liverpool Member of Parliament was visiting families of those bereaved at Hillsborough. Several of my constituents had died, including a child. Another, Andrew Devine, then aged 22, was left in a persistent vegetative state. Andrew was caught in the crush, deprived of oxygen, and following the resultant brain damage his parents were told that he would die within

11 Dec 2012 : Column 1006

months. Ever since, his extraordinary parents, Hilary and Stanley, have lovingly cared for Andrew, who emerged from his coma in 1994.
The deaths of 96 people and the long-term trauma were compounded by the infamous aftermath, which combined vilification and procrastination. Agony was piled upon agony with the insulting and wholly fallacious attempts to smear and blame the victims. They had, it was suggested, brought the calamity of Hillsborough on themselves. Thanks to the Independent Panel’s report, 23 years later that calumny has finally been laid to rest.
For me, however, the most shocking aspect of the tragedy has always been that it could have been averted and that it had been predicted. In the month before the match, a Liverpool fan who had witnessed an earlier game at Hillsborough told me that staging the semi-final at Hillsborough would be unsafe. Following that conversation, I wrote to the then Sports Minister, Colin-now the noble Lord-Moynihan, to express my concern. This correspondence is referred to in a parliamentary reply which appears in Hansard. In 1989, the Minister said:
“The hon. Member wrote to me on 22 March about the arrangements at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough on 15 April. No other representation was received. The arrangements for the match will be among the matters to be considered by Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry”.-[Official Report, Commons, 24/4/89; col. 414.]
So ground safety and ticket allocation at Hillsborough had been an issue before the game. Many of us were reassured that Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry would examine why sufficient weight was not attached to those concerns, as well as examining the events of the day.
Although much-needed changes would subsequently be made to ground safety, Liverpool fans found themselves branded by Kelvin MacKenzie as liars-for which he has now unreservedly apologised. Acting, he said, on information given to him by the police, his newspaper alleged that drunkenness was to blame. At the time, I questioned Ministers in Parliament about the fans’ behaviour, asking the then Minister at the Home Office, Douglas Hogg,
“at what level the publication of statements on 18 April by South Yorkshire police concerning the conduct of Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough semi-cup final was authorised; if he will publish a copy of that statement and the name of the officer who made it; and if he will make a statement”.
He replied:
“Statements made by officers of the South Yorkshire police are a matter for the chief constable. It would not be helpful for me to publish statements or counter-statements which have been made about the circumstances leading to the tragedy, or to name those who made them. It is for Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry to establish the facts”.-[Official Report, Commons, 24/4/89; col. 404.]
The names of the officers who gave the authorisation were not subsequently made known and the falsehoods were allowed to stand. Taylor did not establish the facts; nor did he discover the truth. It was left to the grieving families to demand answers and to insist that justice should be done.
As the years went by I made repeated requests for the legal cases to be reopened. In the House of Commons in June 1992, the Solicitor-General at the time, Sir Derek Spencer, responded that he would,
“take a decision on an outstanding formal application for consent under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 as soon as possible”.

11 Dec 2012 : Column 1007

“As soon as possible” is a phrase which has been used again and again since 1989.
In 1992 I asked the Minister if he had any understanding of,
“the sense of grief felt by many people, including my constituent Philip Hammond whose boy was tragically killed at Hillsborough, and their sense that no line can be drawn on the issue until every legal remedy has been exhausted?”.
I urged him to,
“assure the House that that announcement will not be long in coming and that he will try to understand the feelings of the relatives involved, who do not feel that the inquest process has been exhaustive”.
Twenty years ago, the then Solicitor-General replied that he was,
“conscious of the continuing grief and anxiety of the many individuals affected by that tragedy. For that reason, the decision must be carefully considered-and it will be. We shall make a decision as soon as possible”.-[Official Report, Commons, 15/6/92; col. 644-45.]
Three years had then elapsed since the tragedy-and a further 20 now. If we had acted in 1992, telling the coroner to reopen the cases, it would not now be possible to cite “the passage of time” as the reason why details of what occurred will not and cannot be accurately recalled. It is not just the passage of time that is shocking: it is our lamentable failure to provide justice- as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said in his remarks earlier-in a country which prides itself on the rule of law.
In 1998, in your Lordships’ House, I once again challenged the failure to re-examine the Hillsborough deaths and asked:
“What account the Home Secretary and Lord Justice Stuart-Smith”,
had taken,
“in deciding against a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy, of missing video tapes, changed statements by police officers, conflicting medical evidence and complaints of lack of impartiality in the original coroner’s process and in the granting of immunity from prosecution to police officers upon taking early retirement”.
That was a point alluded to earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith.
The then Minister, the late Lord Williams of Mostyn, replied:
“Lord Justice Stuart-Smith considered all the material evidence submitted to his scrutiny about the Hillsborough disaster. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary”-
Jack Straw-
“accepted his conclusion that there were no grounds for a fresh inquiry”.
The Minister told the House that,
“there was no new video evidence”,
and that,
“the only missing video tapes were two tapes stolen on the day of the disaster, which remain missing. They were not police tapes and the judge was satisfied that they would not have shown anything significant”.
He added that the Director of Public Prosecutions had considered whether police officers should be prosecuted,
“but concluded that no officer should face prosecution”,

11 Dec 2012 : Column 1008

and that because one officer had retired on ill health, it would,
“have been unfair to pursue what was, in essence, a joint charge against one officer only”.
Imagine if any of us here were involved in a bank robbery, a fraud, manslaughter or a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Would the police decide that because one of us had retired they would take no action against the other? That is simply implausible. It also raises a worrying question about the ability of the IPCC to question retired officers. Ministers, of course, have got it wrong before. In 1998, the Minister was clear that,
“allegations of irregularity and malpractice are not substantiated”,
and that it had been found that there were,
“no grounds to suggest that the original inquests were flawed or that complaints of bias against the Coroner were justified”.-[Official Report, 23/3/98; cols. WA 232-33.]
As the Prime Minister made clear in his Statement on 12 September, we now know otherwise and that allegations of irregularity and malpractice were indeed substantiated. Mr Cameron told Parliament that the Liverpool fans had “suffered a double injustice”, both in the,
“failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth”.
In offering a full apology, he also admonished those who had denigrated the deceased and suggested,
“that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths”.-[Official Report, Commons, 12/9/12; cols. 285-86]
In October, the IPCC published its Decision in Response to the Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which makes it clear that despite the fact that it does,
“not have investigative powers over all of the parties referred to in the report”,
its desire is,
“to go forward in the spirit of the Panel’s work, to seek to ensure that there is a coordinated approach”-
a point which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred to-
“that can encompass all the issues, agencies and individuals involved, and which liaises closely with the families”.
We can all welcome that.
It would, however, be helpful if, arising out of the exchange of letters on 10 December and 4 December between the right honourable Damian Green MP and the All-Party Group on the Hillsborough Disaster and the chair of the IPCC, Dame Anne Owers-concerning the decision not to specify effective sanctions in this Bill-the Minister will clarify precisely what action will be taken if serving officers refuse to attend an interview with the IPCC if required to do so. Will he also list the documents which the IPCC says were not given to the right reverend Prelate’s panel and say who is now looking at them, why they were not given to the panel in the first place and whether they are going to be made public?
Last week, the Home Affairs Select Committee said that there should be safeguards for police officers interviewed by the IPCC. This would surely point to the use of interviewing under caution. Perhaps the Minister will say whether that procedure will indeed

11 Dec 2012 : Column 1009

be invoked. The Home Secretary, the right honourable Theresa May, gave a commitment in the House of Commons that the IPCC would be given the powers and resources it needs to carry out its investigation “thoroughly, transparently and exhaustively”. Perhaps the Minister will tell us more about resources and how that work is to be expedited.
When the Prime Minister made his Statement in September the Attorney-General, the right honourable Dominic Grieve MP, said he would make a decision in the forthcoming two months about whether to apply to the High Court for the original verdict of accidental death to be quashed. Yesterday the Attorney-General said:
“My application has now been lodged with the court. It is my intention to appear to argue the case at the hearing that will take place in the High Court. I believe that the case for the High Court to quash the original inquests is a good one”.
What is envisaged as the timetable for those new inquests? In particular, on 27 November I asked the Government,
“what consideration they have given to the petition by Anne Williams”-
supported by 100,000 people-to accelerate the new inquest into the death of her 15 year-old son Kevin at Hillsborough,
“and what consideration they have given to fast-tracking the request on compassionate grounds”.
The Advocate-General for Scotland, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, replied:
“The Attorney-General is in the process of preparing an application to the High Court to quash the original inquests and order new inquests into the deaths of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. The evidence which supports an application in respect of Kevin Williams is essentially the same as that which supports an application into the other deaths and the Attorney-General expects to be in a position to lodge the application in December”.-[Official Report, 27/11/12; WA 38.]
Sadly, what is not the same as in other cases is that Anne Williams has terminal cancer. I hope that the Attorney-General, whom the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester-who is in his place and was himself present at the Hillsborough game-and I will see tomorrow, will ensure that Kevin’s new inquest will be given the highest priority so that it does not come too late for his grieving mother, Anne. Otherwise, one tragedy will be compounded by another. When he comes to reply, I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us the precise timetable which will be followed so that these new inquests will be held without delay, and whether the Lord Chief Justice is likely to make an announcement before Christmas.
Having taken 23 years to uncover the truth, the bereaved families and survivors have a right to expect that the investigations by the IPCC and the inquests are taken forward as expeditiously as possible. I am grateful to the Government for bringing forward the Bill, to the Prime Minister for acting so decisively and to the right reverend Prelate and his independent panel. This time, the words need to mean more than the ones previously uttered and, in seeking justice, our institutions need to examine how and why these tragic events were allowed to fester and to be covered up for so long.

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4.46 pm
The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the clarity of his exposition of the reasons why we need the two clauses in the Bill. It is a great privilege to be able to speak in today’s debate. With your Lordships’ agreement, I would like to take the opportunity to speak more generally about the Hillsborough tragedy and, in particular, about the work carried out by the Hillsborough Independent Panel. It was a humbling honour to be entrusted with the task of chairing the panel.
I also declare an interest. As the Home Secretary announced in another place on 22 October, she has asked me to act as her adviser on Hillsborough-related matters and I was happy to accept that invitation. She was particularly keen that the principles that the panel had established in terms of engagement and consultation with the families should not be lost. In this role, I am very aware of how the families of the 96 and the survivors are following closely the different judicial processes and are understandably anxious that the momentum established by the panel’s report is not lost.
The 1989 Hillsborough disaster was Britain’s worst sporting tragedy. Ninety-six men, women and children lost their lives, many were injured, and the effects of the tragedy have been felt by many more: the relatives of those who died; the survivors who experienced the horror in pens 3 and 4, or who were elsewhere in the ground on that day; and those members of the emergency services who helped the dying and the injured. There have been, over the years, a judicial inquiry, an inquest-at the time the longest-running inquest in English legal history-scrutiny of evidence carried out by a senior judge and a private prosecution. However, despite all these inquiries and investigations, the families have always felt that the truth about Hillsborough had never been told. Instead, they felt and believed that the truth had been obscured.
As Bishop of Liverpool, it became apparent to me that a deep wound continued to exist within the community and it was on the occasion of the 20th anniversary in 2009 that the anger and frustration that had built up over the years was vented at the then Secretary of State, Andy Burnham. I was present and presided over the act of remembrance, which was attended by more than 30,000 people. Mr Burnham was visibly moved by this outpouring of anger, and it was a great credit to him-for this, along with other noble Lords, I pay him huge tribute for it-that he went back to the Government and the idea of a full-document disclosure process was developed.
Discussions took place over the next few months within the Government involving a number of prominent MPs, including Maria Eagle and Derek Twigg. Representatives from the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the group that represents the largest number of bereaved families, were also involved in these discussions. I pay particular tribute today to the bereaved families for their strength, dignity and fortitude, and their persistence in pursuing the truth. Without that persistence, it is unlikely that the work of the panel would ever have taken place.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel was established in January 2010. I place on record my thanks to my fellow panel members for their dedication. Each of

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them brought to bear their unique knowledge and expertise in a quite remarkable and exemplary manner. I also put on record the debt of gratitude that I and all those associated with the panel owe to Ken Sutton and his team of civil servants who formed the secretariat. They are the finest example of the British Civil Service.
At the outset, we had defined terms of reference, and these established three broad objectives: to oversee the disclosure of the documents to the maximum possible degree, initially to the families; to report on its work, outlining the ways in which the information disclosed adds to the public understanding of the tragedy; and to make recommendations about a permanent Hillsborough archive.
The panel met for the first time on 4 February 2010. That meeting was significant. Rightly, it took place in Liverpool, and it was at the very start of the meeting that for the first time the panel met representatives of the three family groups: the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough. Meeting the family groups for the first time in this way and listening to their views provided the panel with a sense of unity and common purpose that endured throughout our work.
Enshrined in the panel’s terms of reference and central to its work was the need to consult the bereaved families. This we did. We also met with those families that were not part of one of the three representative groups. Perhaps I could add here that, during the panel’s work, the families said to me on more than one occasion that this was the first time in 20 years that they were being listened to and taken seriously. That sentiment has given me much cause for reflection on some of our judicial processes that, by contrast, seem to distance the very people whom they are intended to assist.
The scope of the disclosure process was significant and complex. It covered documentation held by central government, local government, other public agencies and some private bodies relating to the events of the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath. Spanning two decades, this necessarily included material that was produced before the tragedy occurred in 1989 and extended to 2000 and the private prosecution of former Chief Superintendent Duckenfield and Superintendent Murray.
The panel developed a system for cataloguing and archiving relevant material, based on the principle of maximum possible disclosure with minimal redaction. We identified a wide range of relevant organisations, and the process involved us reviewing more than 450,000 pages of material from 85 separate organisations and individuals. The material was subject to analysis and research so that it could be considered in the context of the panel’s report. Throughout, the panel has been guided by the fundamental principle of “families first”-in other words, the bereaved families would be first to see the report and the disclosed material. As chair of the panel, I am grateful to all who accepted that principle.
The panel’s report and the disclosed material were made available to the families on 12 September in Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral. This was a very moving

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occasion. Those of us on the panel and from the secretariat who were present felt privileged to be with the families on that day. The cathedral protected the dignity of the families, which had so often been at risk over the previous 20 years. It provided a safe place for them to hear and absorb what we knew would be for them traumatic information. It allowed them to regain their composure before being exposed to the world’s media, and above all, it did this within the sanctity of a sacred place where they could remember and honour the 96.
The disclosed documents show that multiple factors were responsible for the deaths of the 96 victims and that the fans were not the cause of the disaster. It is also clear from the documents that the seeds of the disaster were sown as early as 1981, when warnings went unheeded.
The disaster should never have happened. The deficiencies at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough, the end occupied by the Liverpool supporters, were well known. Overcrowding had occurred at the turnstiles in 1987 and on the terrace of the equivalent FA Cup semi-final match in 1988. The risks were known and the crush in 1989 was foreseeable.
The scope of responsibility for the tragedy extends well beyond the role of the South Yorkshire Police. From the documents provided to the panel, it is clear that the crush at the Leppings Lane turnstiles outside the stadium was not caused by fans arriving late for the kick-off. The turnstiles were inadequate to process the crowd safely and the rate of entry was insufficient to prevent a dangerous build-up outside the ground. The documents do not detract from the conclusion of the judicial inquiry at the time that there were police failures, but for the first time the documents reveal the extent of the shortcomings in the emergency response. The ambulance service’s failure fully to implement the emergency incident plan is thrown into sharp relief by the disclosed documents.
The panel’s report reveals that the medical evidence from pathologists, who had conducted post-mortem examinations on the deceased, was central in establishing a picture of a single, unvarying pattern of death within a few minutes of crushing. This evidence was the basis for the assertion by the coroner and others that the outcome was predetermined from an early stage for all who died. This in turn underpinned the imposition of the 3.15 pm cut-off on the generic inquest and the repeated assumption that the emergency services’ response could not have helped. The panel’s access to all the relevant documents has confirmed that the notion of a single, unvarying and rapid pattern of death in all cases is unsustainable. Lives could have been saved.
It is evident from the disclosed documents of the multiple investigations that, from the outset, South Yorkshire Police sought to establish a case emphasising exceptional levels of drunkenness and aggression among Liverpool fans, alleging that many arrived late at the stadium without tickets and determined to force entry. In seeking to make this case, South Yorkshire Police went as far as to vet the written statements made by its officers. Once vetted, changes were made. As we have already heard, the panel found that 164 statements

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were altered significantly. Of those, 116 were amended to remove content that was unfavourable to the police, including on its lack of leadership.
The final chapter of the panel’s report looks behind the media headlines to the origins, promotion and reproduction of unsubstantiated allegations. Drawing on papers provided to the panel by the Sun newspaper, the panel is able to explain the background to the stories that appeared in a number of papers at the time. The documents show the role played by a local news agency in Sheffield, but also the part played by a local MP and a number of police officers. I hope that whatever emerges as the result of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry will be tested against the experience of the Hillsborough families and survivors. Misrepresentation and distortion by the press can endure for a generation or more. The press should be accountable not just to its readers but to an independent body that inspires confidence that truth and justice will be the benchmarks of a free press.
The Government’s response to the panel’s report has been unequivocal. We have already heard from the Minister, and the Prime Minister spoke very powerfully and clearly for us all in the Statement in another place on 12 September when he acknowledged that the families had suffered what he described as “a double injustice”. He went on,
“the injustice of the appalling events-the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth; and then the injustice of the denigration of the deceased-that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths”.-[Official Report, Commons, 12/9/12; cols. 285-86.]
The panel has been enormously encouraged by the cross-party consensus and by the overwhelming reaction of support to its report and publication of the disclosed material. It is right that the publication of the panel’s report and the disclosure of the material should now allow us to move from truth to justice, a phrase which was coined by the Prime Minister in his Statement and echoed in this House today, but justice, for me, is making sure that the various investigations that are now taking place-and they are to be welcomed-allow the law to take its proper course. The panel interrogated documents, not people. Organisations and people who may be the subject of allegations need now to be give the opportunity to respond in a proper manner, for justice is about process as well as outcomes.
There have already been speeches from the Government and Opposition Benches in support of the principles of this short Bill. I will therefore not add to them, other than to say that I welcome any proposal which takes forward the panel’s work in a correct and proper manner.
I think back to the day when it was announced that I would be chairing the Hillsborough Independent Panel. I was asked what I thought would be achieved by the disclosure of the documents. I replied, not knowing fully the impact of my words, “Truth has its own pressure”. That is an article of faith that I believe generally. In the context of Hillsborough, it is something that I now believe specifically, not least in the week that the Attorney-General has been persuaded by the disclosed documents to make application to the High Court to quash the inquests of the 96.

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In conclusion, I am grateful to your Lordships’ House for allowing me the opportunity to speak more generally about Hillsborough and, in particular, about the work of the panel, its context, the content of its report and the consequences. Hillsborough was a national tragedy, and it is right that the events there and in the aftermath should never be forgotten. The names of the 96 victims of the tragedy are publicly remembered each year at the annual memorial service at Anfield but, as we have already heard, the families, friends and survivors have to live with what happened every day of their lives. The sad fact is that it has taken 23 years to get to the point we have reached today.
In the preface to the report, I quoted a 4th century north African Christian philosopher called Lactantius on his definition of justice. He wrote:
“The whole point of justice consists precisely in our providing for others through humanity what we provide for our own family through affection”.
If members of our family had died on 15 April 1989, we would not have wanted to wait 23 years until truth could call out for justice. If we can put ourselves into the shoes of the Hillsborough families, then the journey of justice must not now be a long and winding road. The families know that justice delayed is justice denied. The panel’s work is now complete; we owe it to the memory of the 96 to ensure that the next stage is done in a just and timely manner. In short, the journey from truth to justice must itself be just in order to deliver true justice for the 96.
5.06 pm

Hillsborough: twenty three years of cover up

The Scandal of Hillsborough.  

Twenty three years ago one of my saddest duties while I served as a Liverpool Member of Parliament was visiting families of those bereaved in the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster.

Several constituents had died, including a child. One, a young man, Andrew Devine, aged 22, was left in a persistive vegetative state .   Andrew was caught in the crush, deprived of oxygen, and following the resultant brain damage his parents were told that he would die within months.  Ever since, his extraordinary parents, Hilary and Stanley, have lovingly cared for Andrew, who emerged from his coma in 1994.

  The deaths of 96 people, and the long term trauma, was compounded by the outrageous, infamous aftermath.  There was vilification, condemnation, and procrastination.

Agony was piled upon agony with the insulting and wholly fallacious attempt to smear and blame the victims.  They had, it was suggested, brought the calamity of Hillsborough on themselves.

Twenty three years later, thanks to Bishop James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, and his Independent Panel’s Report, that calumny has finally been laid to rest.

For me, the most shocking aspect of the tragedy was that it could have been averted and that it had been predicted. 

  In the month before the match, which was played on April 15th 1989, a Liverpool fan had told me that staging the semi final at Hillsborough would be unsafe.

I wrote to the then Sports Minister, Colin Moynihan, registering my concern and this correspondence is referred to in a parliamentary reply which appears in Hansard:

The hon. Member wrote to me on 22 March about the arrangements at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough on 15 April. No other representation was received. The arrangements for the match will be among the matters to be considered by Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry.”

 

No-one has ever been able to say that the ground’s safety and ticket allocation had not been an issue before the game.

 

Immediately after the tragedy Kelvin MacKenzie’s Sun branded Liverpool fans as Liars (for which he has now unreservedly apologised) and, acting on information given by the Police, alleged that that drunkenness was to blame. In Parliament I questioned Ministers about the fans’ behaviour, asking the Home Office Minister, Douglas Hogg, “at what level the publication of statements on 18 April by South Yorkshire police concerning the conduct of Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough semi-cup final was authorised; if he will publish a copy of that statement and the name of the officer who made it; and if he will make a statement.”

He replied:

“Statements made by officers of the South Yorkshire police are a matter for the chief constable. It would not be helpful for me to publish statements or counter-statements which have been made about the circumstances leading to the tragedy, or to name those who made them. It is for Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry to establish the facts.”

The names of the officers who gave the authorisation were not made known. The falsehoods were allowed to stand.  Taylor didn’t establish the facts, nor did he discover the truth. It was left to the grieving families to continue to demand answers and to insist that justice should be done.

As the years went by I made repeated requests for the legal cases to be re-opened.

In June 1992 the Solicitor General, Sir Derek Spencer, responded that the Attorney General would “take a decision on an outstanding formal application for consent under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 as soon as possible.”

I wondered whether the Minister had any understanding of “the sense of grief felt by many people, including my constituent Philip Hammond, whose boy was tragically killed at Hillsborough, and their sense that no line can be drawn on the issue until every legal remedy has been exhausted?”

I urged him to “assure the House that that announcement will not be long in coming and that he will try to understand the feelings of the relatives involved, who do not feel that the inquest process has been exhaustive?”

Twenty years ago, the Solicitor General replied that he was “conscious of the continuing grief and anxiety of the many individuals affected by that tragedy. For that reason, the decision must be carefully considered—and it will be. We shall make a decision as soon as possible.”

Three years had then elapsed since the tragedy – and a further twenty now. If Ministers had acted in 1992, telling the Coroner to reopen the cases, it would not now be possible to hide behind the excuse that “the passage of time” impedes accurate recall of the details of what occurred.

It’s not just the passage of time that is shocking: it is the institutional failure and corruption which has been exposed – and the craven failure of Ministers and officials. 

In the House of Lords, in 1998, I again challenged the failure to re-examine the Hillsborough deaths, and asked what account the Home Secretary and Lord Justice Stuart-Smith had taken, “in deciding against a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy, of missing video tapes, changed statements by police officers, conflicting medical evidence and complaints of lack of impartiality in the original coroner’s process and in the granting of immunity from prosecution to police officers upon taking early retirement.”

The Minister, Lord Williams of Mostyn, replied:

“Lord Justice Stuart-Smith considered all the material evidence submitted to his scrutiny about the Hillsborough disaster. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary (Jack Straw) accepted his conclusion that there were no grounds for a fresh inquiry.”

The Minister told Parliament that “there was no new video evidence”; that “the only missing video tapes were two tapes stolen on the day of the disaster, which remain missing. They were not police tapes and the judge was satisfied that they would not have shown anything significant.”

He added that the Director of Public Prosecutions had considered whether Police Officers should be prosecuted but “concluded that no officer should face prosecution” and because one officer had retired on ill health it would “have been unfair to pursue what was, in essence, a joint charge against one officer only.”

Imagine that you and I were involved in a bank robbery, a fraud, manslaughter, or a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, would the Police deicide that, because one of us had retired, they would take no action against the other? What nonsense is this?

The Minister was clear that “allegations of irregularity and malpractice are not substantiated” that they “found no grounds to suggest that the original inquests were flawed or that complaints of bias against the Coroner were justified.”

No substantial irregularities? No malpractice? Well now we know otherwise.

At last, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has told Parliament that the Liverpool fans had suffered a “double injustice”, both in the “failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth”. In offering a full apologyhe also admonished those who had denigrated thedeceased and suggested that they were “somehow at fault for their own deaths”.

His Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, says he will make a decision in the next two months about whether to apply to the High Court for the original verdict of accidental death to be quashed. He should get on with this without any further delay.

This time, the words need to mean more than the ones previously uttered – and, in seeking justice, our institutions need to examine how and why this scandal was allowed to fester and to be covered up for so long.

Andrew was left in a in a persistive vegetative state . His parents, Hilary and Stanley, were told that he would die within months. Ever since, they have lovingly cared for Andrew, who emerged from his coma in 1994.