Hillsborough disaster: Second police force investigated over 'criminal conduct'

Analysis shows statements taken by West Midlands Police officers from supporters are not the same as the details given by the same individuals in questionnaires

A second police force has become the focus for alleged criminal conduct after watchdogs found “differences” in witness statements taken from football fans at the Hillsborough disaster.

Analysis shows statements taken by West Midlands Police officers from supporters are seemingly not the same as the details given by the same individuals in questionnaires they had completed earlier.

The huge new investigation into the Hillsborough disaster by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has already uncovered a mass of statements given by police officers on the day that were doctored by South Yorkshire Police.

The disaster, which killed 96 Liverpool fans in 1989, is now at the centre of the biggest inquiry into police wrongdoing in the UK.

Today the IPCC said "amendments or changes" were made to an as yet unknown number of fan statements and appealed for ordinary football fans who were at the ground to come forward and give the "definitive account" of what happened on the day.

Chris Mahaffey, a former Metropolitan Police detective and now senior investigator for the IPCC, said: "We must assess whether there's any evidence of criminal conduct.

"Our analysis, certainly of these large number of questionnaires completed by fans at the disaster, when you make comparison with these questionnaires against other documentation that appears to come from the same person, there are differences.

"Who was actually directing this, if there was someone directing this?"

Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said the damning report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel published last September had already raised "serious questions" over the work done by the West Midlands police force.

West Midlands Police ran their own inquiry into the handling of the disaster by South Yorkshire Police, who orchestrated a cover-up, falsified documents and blamed innocent supporters for the tragedy, the independent panel report found.

But the West Midlands force investigation formed the basis of Lord Taylor's judicial inquiry into the disaster, the subsequent decision not to prosecute individuals, and the flawed inquests whose verdicts were quashed last year.

PA