No charges over allegations Hillsborough officer invented cigarette attack on horse by fans

No charges will be brought against a mounted police officer at the Hillsborough disaster accused of falsely claiming that Liverpool supporters had burnt his horse with cigarettes, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

Friday, 15th December 2017, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 15th December 2017, 1:25 pm
The Hillsborough disaster unfolds

The Independent Police Complaints Commission had submitted files to the CPS relating to a South Yorkshire Police mounted officer and a farrier contracted to work for the force, following allegations about falsified evidence relating to a police horse being injured outside the stadium.

Six men, including match commander David Duckenfield, are already facing prosecution for alleged offences related to the 1989 disaster and its aftermath.

The CPS said families of the 96 victims of the disaster had been informed of the decision not to authorise charges this week.

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It said the mounted officer had been seen on camera before the FA Cup semi-final lashing out towards fans, who he later claimed were burning his horse with cigarettes.

The farrier, who was a friend of the officer, also described the injuries sustained by the horse.

It was alleged that the accounts were false and given to protect the officer from disciplinary action.

The CPS said the evidential threshold for a charge of perverting the course of justice had been met in relation to the farrier, but it was concluded that it was not in the public interest to charge him.

The prosecutor said the evidential threshold had not been met in relation to the officer.

A spokesman said: "A full explanation of the charging decisions has been provided in writing to the families and their representatives, along with the suspects and other interested parties."

IPCC deputy chairwoman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "Following a very through and detailed investigation by our dedicated Hillsborough team, we referred a significant body of evidence to the CPS for their consideration in July 2017.

"The CPS has decided not to charge either subject following our investigation. It was vitally important that allegations of such a serious nature were investigated robustly.

"Following the conclusion of all criminal proceedings relating to the Hillsborough disaster, we will consider whether any former police officers, including all of those referred to the CPS for charging decisions, would have had cases to answer for misconduct if they were still serving.

"The evidence supporting these findings will be set out in a final investigation report."

Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989, as their FA Cup semi-final cup-tie began against Nottingham Forest.

After decades of campaigning by relatives, an inquest jury last year ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police blunders, paving the way for prosecutions, after the quashing of original inquest verdicts in 1991 of accidental death.