Police officers present at the Hillsborough Disaster, including those whose statements were doctored, have been informed that they are under investigation.
Officers who were juniors at the time of the disaster in 1989 yesterday received a letter from the South Yorkshire Police force assistant chief constable Andrew Holt, telling them that he understood they would feel “confused“ about the fact that they were now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). ACC Holt said told the officers were “in no way being cast adrift” by the force. That has been greeted with scepticism by some who feel that the force’s senior management had no time for them, in the aftermath of the disaster which left many traumatised and in which the force’s management failings contributed heavily to 96 deaths.
The South Yorkshire Police Federation, which was instrumental in attempts to present the force in a better light after Lord Justice Taylor’s 1989 report into Hillsborough heavily censured the police, now has its own ‘Hillsborough’ email address, which officers are invited to use if they need help, during the course of the IPCC investigation. ACC Holt warns officer that the inquiry will be ”very broad “ in its consideration of criminal and/or disciplinary offences committed by police officers at the disaster. It has followed the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) report and “subsequent ” comment and speculation,“ the ACC tells former and serving officers.
The Independent also understands that the investigation into the doctoring of statements which is being undertaken by the legal profession’s regulatory body will not be completed until well into next year. The doctoring - known as ”review and alteration“ in the exhaustive HIP report whose principal author was Prof Phil Scraton of Queens University Belfast – was driven by Peter Metcalf, a former Hammond Suddards partner and overseen by a senior South Yorkshire Police officer. The size of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is such that a dedicated room has been set aside at the organisation’s Birmingham offices. The SRA has said it is combing through all of the HIP evidence as well as investigating specific complaints from Hillsborough families.
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