CPS 'told of Hillsborough cover-up 14 years ago'

Explanation demanded on failure to prosecute

Senior lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were handed detailed analysis of the police cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster 14 years ago but decided to take no action against any officers involved, the senior lawyer who led a private prosecution on behalf of the families says today.

In a withering attack on the criminal-justice system in The Independent, Alun Jones, QC says the Director of Public Prosecutions needs to explain why his office did "absolutely nothing" in 1998 after considering a line-by-line analysis of tampered reports by South Yorkshire police.

Mr Jones, who led an unsuccessful manslaughter prosecution of the two most senior officers on duty at the ground where 96 Liverpool fans died in 1989, said that police were heavily protected in law during investigations into their conduct and only "herculean" efforts by victims brought the truth to light.

Mr Jones's criticisms came as one of the country's most senior chief constables apologised after suggesting yesterday that the behaviour of the fans on the day of the tragedy had made it harder for police to control the situation.

Sir Norman Bettison, the current head of West Yorkshire Police, headed a team of senior officers charged with putting the case for South Yorkshire police in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. He has fended off calls for his resignation saying he had nothing to do with the cover-up.

However, his intervention on Thursday only increased the anger of the families. In a statement yesterday, he said: "The evidence was overwhelming. The police failed to control the situation, which ultimately led to the tragic deaths of 96 entirely innocent people. I can be no plainer than that and I am sorry if my earlier statement, intended to convey the same message, has caused any further upset."

Mr Jones says that the Hillsborough Family Support Group launched the private prosecution in light of inaction by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute anyone over the tragedy. The then Home Secretary Jack Straw lodged all the original and amended statements to the House of Commons library in 1998.

"We furnished the DPP, and Attorney General, with an analysis demonstrating the gravity of the conspiracy," Mr Jones writes. He adds: "It is the DPP, particularly, who needs to explain why his office did absolutely nothing." Mr Jones said the analysis was prepared to head off any attempt by the authorities to halt the manslaughter prosecution of David Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray. The private prosecution failed in 2000.

A Crown Prosecution spokesperson said: "The Crown Prosecution Service was approached in 1998 by both parties to the private prosecution and asked to take it over.

"At the time we concluded we would not intervene and the private prosecution went ahead. We provided documentation to the Hillsborough Independent Panel about the reasons behind this decision in 1998 and the Panel has made no criticism of the CPS or the DPP over this." The current head of South Yorkshire police, David Crompton, has said that anyone who is found to have falsified police documents would face criminal investigation.

All the original and amended statements were lodged in the House of Commons library in 1998

Path to justice: A Timeline

15 April 1989: Ninety-six fans die in a crush at the kick-off of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in Sheffield.

January 1990: Publication of the Taylor Report blames deaths on police losing control and recommends all-seater stadiums and the removal of anti-hooligan fences. Lord Taylor rejects claims fans were drunk.

September 1990: Director of Public Prosecutions concludes there is insufficient evidence to justify proceedings against police or others.

November 1990: Inquests resume. Coroner returns verdicts of accidental death in all cases but no evidence heard is from after 3.15pm on the day of the tragedy.

November 1990: Chief Superintendant David Duckenfield, who was match-day commander, retires from South Yorkshire Police on health grounds. Disciplinary action against him is subsequently dropped.

November 1993: Judicial review into the inquests backs coroner's handling of the case.

December 1996: Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough TV film highlights new evidence.

1997: Lord Justice Stuart Smith holds "scrutiny" but concludes there is no new evidence to warrant fresh inquests. His findings are accepted by Home Secretary Jack Straw.

July 2000: Private prosecutions against two senior South Yorkshire police officers for manslaughter. Jury is unable to reach a verdict on Chief Superintendant Duckenfield and acquits his deputy superintendant, Bernard Murray.

March 2009: European Court of Human Rights rejects bereaved parent Anne Williams' challenge over the official version of her 15-year-old son's death, claiming he was still alive after 3.15pm. Her challenge is ruled timed out.

2010: Hillsborough Independent Panel begin examining papers.

September 2012: Publication of 450,000 pages of documents.

Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Commonwealth GamesEntertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game