The sheer scale of the investigation into a police cover-up of mistakes made during the Hillsborough disaster has become clear, with the names of 1,444 former and serving officers being passed to the official watchdog.
The number of people who will see their conduct examined by the Independent Police Complaints Commission – which must decide if the doctoring of police statements following the tragedy amounted to criminal acts – was disclosed in Parliament yesterday by the Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz. Mr Vaz said the “huge” figure, which was “more than we expected”, had been revealed to him by the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton.
Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed the IPCC inquiry would look into “potential criminality and police misconduct in respect of police officers, both serving and retired”.
The Government has insisted that the “enormity” of the enquiry would not prevent it being “thorough and wide-ranging”. But Labour argued the nature of the investigation means the IPCC needed to be handed new powers to force both current and retired officers to give evidence.
During a debate on last month’s Independent Hillsborough Panel Report, the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the demands were "beyond the scale of anything the IPCC has done before".
Ms May responded by saying she "remained committed to ensuring it has all the resources and powers it needs to carry out its investigations thoroughly, transparently and exhaustively".
She added: "This includes proposals to require current and ex-police officers who were maybe witnesses to a crime to attend an interview, and whether this might require fast-track legislation.”
According to the dossier published last month, as many as 164 police statements were altered with up to 116 having unfavourable comments exorcised or changed. It also found that 41 of the 96 Liverpool fans who were crushed to death could have survived if the authorities had acted with better care and more swiftly.