Hillsborough families to sue South Yorkshire Police for millions

Flashback to the tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989
Flashback to the tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989
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South Yorkshire Police are to be sued for millions of pounds by hundreds of families of Liverpool fans involved in the Hillsborough tragedy.

Almost 400 people are to bring a class action against South Yorkshire and West Midlands police forces.

Sky News has reported 386 people are suing the forces for damages, with those making claims including relatives of the 96 victims and survivors from the day.

The police forces are accused of a ‘systematic cover-up’.

The legal action is being led by London firm Saunders Law and can now be reported following the conclusion of the two-year inquest process, which found the Liverpool supporters who been unlawfully killed.

A spokesman for Saunders Law said: “We have been acting for many of the Hillsborough families for some years and welcome the inquest jury findings that the 96 were unlawfully killed by South Yorkshire Police, and that neither the 96 nor the fans were in any way to blame.

“The stark truth about how the 96 died has at last been officially recognised and the families’ long campaign is vindicated. After truth, the families now seek Justice, and look to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Operation Resolve to work with the Crown Prosecution Service in bringing merited criminal charges relating to the unlawful killings.

“In addition to the police wrongdoing that caused the deaths, there is evidence of the systematic cover up intended to transfer the blame for what happened from South Yorkshire Police to the innocent, by spreading lies, doctoring evidence, pressurising witnesses and suppressing the truth.

“The evidence points to abuse on an industrial scale by both South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police, beyond any “one bad apple” analysis. In addition to actions by individuals, the evidence suggests institutional misfeasance by these bodies directed against our clients and the fans generally.

“Our clients believe that Justice will only be established through accountability. Accordingly we issued High Court Claims for Misfeasance in Public Office against South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police in 2015 on behalf of several hundred of those affected.

“The claims concern the cover up and actions intended to wrongly blame the deceased and Liverpool Football Club supporters for the tragedy, for which there has still been no proper admission or apology. Despite a half hearted admission after publication of the Hillsborough Independent Report, we now learn South Yorkshire Police spent an estimated £19m of tax payers’ money on defending the indefensible at the inquest.

“Misfeasance in Public Office is a cause of action in the civil courts of England and Wales. It is an action against the holder of a public office, alleging that the office-holder has misused or abused their power. A police force is vicariously liable for the Misfeasance of its officers.

“We hope to meet the IPCC and Operation Resolve in the near future. They have been investigating allegations against individual officers, and so have material relevant to the misfeasance action. Our clients also wish to ensure that the right of any suspects to a fair criminal trial is not diminished by the misfeasance action.

“After issuing the claims last year we secured a Contempt of Court Act order from a High Court Judge preventing publication of any information about the claims until the inquest ended, to avoid any risk of prejudice to the inquest. The claims were also stayed until the inquest verdicts were given, which was on 26th April 2016, and we now propose to move the claims forward to secure accountability.”

South Yorkshire Police are yet to comment.