A year after the Hillsborough report – nothing
Relatives to meet senior legal officers as fury mounts over 'slow' inquiry into police cover-up
Sunday 08 September 2013
Grieving families desperate for justice over the Hillsborough stadium disaster are set for an angry showdown this week with the country's most senior prosecutor and the head of the police watchdog.
Tensions are so high that the former bishop of Liverpool, who chaired the Hillsborough Panel, has stepped in to mediate between families and the authorities, in an effort to keep the investigations on track.
A meeting between families and Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and Dame Anne Owers, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), will take place on Friday.
This comes during a week that marks a year since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, which led to the original inquests being quashed and the IPCC mounting the biggest investigation in its history.
Yet there is growing frustration with its apparently slow progress. Not a single person or organisation has yet to be held to account for the biggest cover-up in modern times, after Britain's worst sporting disaster, in which 96 people died.
There is also concern over the appointment of Alison Saunders to replace Mr Starmer after he steps down as DPP next month, for Ms Saunders previously advised against new inquests being held. In 1996, when the parents of Kevin Williams applied for a new inquest into their son's death, she advised the Solicitor General against reopening the inquest since "there is nothing which makes a fresh inquest necessary or in the interests of justice".
Margaret Aspinall, of Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose 18-year-old son, James, was one of those who died, said: "We will ask her if her views are the same now. We will be putting this very, very strongly to her when we meet her because we've been let down too many times."
She added: "We've had the truth for all the fans, which is brilliant, but Hillsborough is still not over. We are still waiting for justice."
The Labour MP Maria Eagle, a former justice minister, said: "I'm not attacking [Ms Saunders's] professional integrity, but it's not about that – it's about credibility with the families and those who have suffered. It is tremendously important for the CPS to have a leader who in respect to this case is objective beyond reproach, and she is not seen as being that."
Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: "We have asked that she remove herself from anything to do with Hillsborough." Frustration among families, she added, is "extremely high because of the lack of progress" in the IPCC inquiry.
In a statement, an IPCC spokesman said: "It is entirely understandable that people want quick results." But he added: "We do not want to make the mistakes made by previous inquiries... it will be crucial that our investigation gives the most complete picture of what happened, and this inevitably takes time." Commenting on the meeting taking place this week, he said: "Discussions are continuing to establish the best way of ensuring the families are engaged in the various investigative processes."
A CPS spokesperson said: "Alison Saunders... will recuse herself from making any decisions in the Hillsborough cases because of her earlier involvement in the issues." Those decision will be taken by Peter Lewis, the CPS chief executive.
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