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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food