‘Hillsborough cover up probe needs more power’

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Labour has called for powers to compel police to give evidence to an inquiry into the Hillsborough cover-up.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has urged the Government to bring forward emergency legislation amid fears the Independent Police Complaints Commission lacks sufficient powers to uncover the truth about the police response to the tragedy.

In the biggest-ever inquiry into police action, the IPCC is to investigate serving and former officers over what happened on the day of the tragedy in 1989, in which 96 Liverpool fans died and during the cover-up afterwards.

They include current Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, who has been accused of supplying misleading information after the disaster and trying to influence the local police authority when he was referred to the IPCC.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed 164 police statements were altered, 116 to remove or change negative comments about policing of the match and disaster.

Questions have also been raised over whether manslaughter charges should be brought over the deaths.

But the IPCC cannot force serving police officers to attend interviews if they are not themselves suspected of criminal behaviour or misconduct. Retired officers cannot be compelled at all.

In a Commons debate on Hillsborough, Labour offered to work with the Government on legislation or any other way of remedying shortcomings in the IPCC’s powers.

Ms Cooper said: “Everything possible should be done now to remove these obstacles to justice for the Hillsborough families. We can’t let further inquiries drag on for years because they didn’t have the powers or resources to get results.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has invited Labour to discuss their proposals.