Hillsborough victims’ families expecting to oversee twin inquiries

Relatives have been offered a “challenge panel” which is intended to allow them unprecedented rights to oversee the police and the IPCC investigations

Hillsborough families have told chief prosecutor Kier Starmer that they expect to have “meaningful oversight” of the two inquiries into the disaster.

The families were promised a role in the investigations in the wake of last year’s Hillsborough Panel report which concluded there had been a major cover up by police and others to avoid the blame for the crush which killed 96 football fans.

Relatives have been offered a “challenge panel” which is intended to allow them unprecedented rights to oversee the police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigations.

However, at a meeting in Warrington today families expressed concern to Mr Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales, and Dame Anne Owers, chairman of the IPCC, that the panel’s terms of reference have not even been decided.

Shiela Coleman, who represents the Hillsborough Justice Campaign told the ‘i’ that the families had “pushed” Mr Starmer and Dame Anne for the panel’s terms of reference to be decided quickly.

“Time is going on. It’s a year now since the report and we can’t just let it ride,” she said. “We want it to have teeth. We want it to have meaningful terms of reference. We want the panel to be able to report back anything it’s not happy with.

“It all centres around transparency and accountability. We will push for this until we get better systems in place, until we do get agencies that are accountable and can be trusted.”

Lawyers representing the campaign group issued a statement welcoming the creation of the oversight panel but expressing concern at continued delays in the fight for justice for the families.

“We are pleased to see that the challenge panel is finally to be set up,” the group said in a statement released by Elkan Abrahamson, Jackson and Canter Solicitors.

“However delay remains a concern. The Terms of Reference are not yet finalised. It is not clear what documents the panel will be allowed to see. All we ask for is scrutiny to ensure that the IPCC and the police act with integrity and expedition.”

As the DPP was meeting Hillsborough families it emerged that Richard Whittam QC, First Senior Treasury Counsel, had advised Mr Starmer against including Professor Phil Scraton on the challenge panel due to the risk to any potential prosecutions. The professor was the lead author of last year’s report and has been vocal in his criticisms of police and IPCC failings.

The former Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, is expected to be appointed chairman of the challenge panel. Other members, the I understands, be of former appeal court judge Sir Stephen Sedley, criminologist Dr Silvia Casale, and policing expert Professor Roger Graef.

Plans to stage a musical about Hillsborough titled ‘Their Scarves Were Red’ has been scrapped by the Unity Theatre in Liverpool. A spokesman said the timing of the production and strong feelings of the local community meant it would be “appropriate” to host the show.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss