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Three former South Yorkshire Police officers not to be prosecuted over Hillsborough disaster

A scene from the Hillsborough disaster
A scene from the Hillsborough disaster

Three former South Yorkshire Police officers have been informed that they are not to be prosecuted over the Hillsborough disaster.

They have been told that their cases are not to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation into allegations of a ‘cover-up’ by South Yorkshire Police in the wake the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 football fans died after a crush at Hillsborough in April 1989.

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The Independent Police Complaints Commission - now renamed the Independent Office for Police Conduct - investigated allegations that the three senior officers participated in a strategy to minimise South Yorkshire Police's culpability for the disaster by wrongly blaming Liverpool fans.

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In is alleged that the officers sought to deliberately mislead the Lord Justice Taylor inquiry into the disaster and the original inquest proceedings.

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Five other individuals, including former officers, were charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough disaster in June 2017 but today it has been revealed that the other three under investigation will face no action.

Rachel Cerfontyne, of the IOPC, reviewed the evidence to see if it met the threshold for referral to the CPS.

She said although there was some indication that two of the three former officers may have committed a criminal offence, it was not deemed appropriate to refer their cases because the CPS had already rejected the possibility of bringing criminal charges based on evidence reviewed in 2016.

No further evidence or legal matters have since been identified.

Ms Cerfontyne said: “At the core of my decision not to refer these South Yorkshire Police officers for formal charging decisions is the CPS’s clear view that charges would not be brought and the risk that a referral could cause disruption to the forthcoming Hillsborough trials.

"The evidence gathered by the investigation team has been wide ranging and thorough. I have reviewed it very carefully, as I know the CPS have done.

"This will now be used to determine if any officer involved in Hillsborough would have had a case to answer for misconduct if they were still serving. These findings, along with underlying evidence, will be set out in full in the Hillsborough final investigation report."

Former Chief Inspector Norman Bettison has been charged with four counts of misconduct in public office in relation to the Hillsborough disaster.

Peter Metcalf, a former South Yorkshire Police solicitor, is accused of doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice along with former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster.

Graham Henry Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s company secretary and safety officer at the time, is charged with two health and safety breaches.

Authorisation has also been granted for former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, match commander on the day of the disaster, to be charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence, but he is currently the subject of an order preventing prosecution following an earlier trial.