Claims David Crompton attempted to 'pour blame' on Liverpool fans over Hillsborough will not be investigated

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David Crompton
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Claims South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton attempted to 'pour blame' on Liverpool fans over the Hillsborough disaster will not be investigated by the IPCC.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced it will not investigate the complaint made on behalf of a group of Hillsborough families about alleged instructions given by suspended South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton to his legal team at the Hillsborough inquests.

The complaint specifically alleged that Mr Crompton instructed barristers representing the force at the inquests to 'pour blame' on the Liverpool fans as part of a deliberate effort to deflect blame from his force.

The inquests, which found that the 96 victims of the disaster had been unlawfully killed, were the longest jury cases in British legal history.

In the wake of the verdicts then-shadow home secretary Andy Burnham accused South Yorkshire Police of ''protecting itself above protecting people'' during the hearings, and said that the families had been ''through hell again'' during the protracted case.

He said that millions of pounds of public money had been used to continue a ''cover-up'' and retell ''discredited lies against Liverpool supporters''.

The IPCC said any investigation into Mr Crompton would be 'significantly hampered' by being unable to review any communications between him and his legal team due to Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). It said South Yorkshire Police had refused to waive privilege and allow such documents to be reviewed.

A spokesman for the IPCC said: "LPP is a legal principal which makes communication between legal professionals and their clients confidential. The IPCC asked SYP to waive this privilege in order to view any documentation that might contain legal instructions, however this was declined by the force.

"Available and relevant material was assessed as part of this decision-making process, including inquest transcripts, submissions and emails between the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner and Mr Crompton.

"Although it was found that SYP’s barristers did ask several questions about fan behaviour, these were infrequent and did not suggest that a deliberate or calculated approach was being pursued.

"The complaint also stated that the force had tried to manipulate the media during the inquests, after former SYP employee Hayley Court alleged that she had been told to unethically influence reporting of the inquests to favour SYP.

"These allegations, which did not refer to Mr Crompton, have been investigated separately by the IPCC. These enquiries are now complete and findings will be published in the coming weeks."

IPCC Deputy Chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: “The approach taken by some legal teams at the inquests clearly caused distress among those affected by the disaster. However, the evidence we have assessed doesn’t indicate that a criminal or misconduct offence has occurred.

"This, combined with the fact we cannot review any legal instructions from Mr Crompton to his legal team has led me to conclude that an IPCC investigation could not provide any meaningful response to the complaint.”

Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah and Vicki died in the disaster, said of the decision: "I'm disappointed with it and it looks as though the IPCC has taken the soft option to use what we consider a technicality to brush it away. It's only going to fuel the discontent with the IPCC, and won't help the said-to-be genuine desire of South Yorkshire Police to build bridges."