An investigation into an alleged police cover-up of the reasons behind the Hillsborough disaster is examining a new claim about officers’ potential links to the Freemasons.
Police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced it is ‘pursuing a further line of enquiry on Freemasons’ as part of its ongoing investigation into police actions in the aftermath of the disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.
Rachel Cerfontyne, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: “We are currently liaising with the United Grand Lodge of England, and they are assisting us by checking whether certain individuals involved in Hillsborough were Freemasons members.”
Following the completion of the inquest process earlier this year, the IPCC said it had been examining concerns from families of victims ‘about whether membership of the Freemasons impacted on any decision-making’ by police officers.
At that stage, the watchdog said it had established what Masonic lodge meetings took place after Hillsborough and who attended them ‘to try to assess whether there may be some correlation with individuals involved in decision-making around Hillsborough’.
In April, the IPCC said that line of enquiry had been concluded but the watchdog would assess any other information that came forward.
The latest update on the far-reaching IPCC operation has also revealed its investigation into complaints about the conduct of suspended South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton in relation to the force’s handling of the inquest process is still ongoing.
Ms Cerfontyne said: “I had hoped to reach a decision on whether the IPCC will investigate this matter by the end of August. However we have recently been informed that further potentially relevant material may become available in the near future. We must consider this as part of our assessment in order to be thorough and to ensure any decision is based on all available evidence.”
The IPCC investigations are running parallel to a criminal probe into the planning and preparation for the match and the decisions made on the day of the disaster. It is anticipated that both investigations will provide full files of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service by the turn of the year.