The police officer in charge at Hillsborough on the day 96 fans were crushed to death is to be interviewed by detectives as part of the criminal investigation into the disaster.
David Duckenfield was overseeing policing at the stadium when the order was given to open the Leppings Lane gate to ease congestion outside – leading to too many fans flooding onto the terraces.
Jon Stoddart, Assistant Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and leading Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the disaster, confirmed Mr Duckenfield, now retired from South Yorkshire Police, will be seen early next year.
He said the investigation was in ‘good shape to get to the bottom of the causes of the disaster and to get to the truth’.
Around 500 police officers have been interviewed so far, with eight officers ‘declining’ to be questioned.
The findings of the police probe will be used by the director of public prosecutions to decide if anyone faces potential charges of manslaughter or anybody is charged with regulatory offences.
“First of all, it’s a criminal investigation into the deaths of 96 fans. Our working theory, in short, is to prove or disprove that the 96 fans were unlawfully killed,” he said.
Original inquests into the deaths were later found to be flawed, the verdicts of accidental death quashed and fresh inquests will be held next year.
Mr Stoddart said much of his team’s work has been to assist the coroner to gather information for the new inquests.
And he said more in-depth re-interviewing of witnesses from the day was shedding ‘far more light’ on events.
A separate investigation into the conduct of police in the aftermath of the disaster is looking at whether statements from police officers on the day were changed.