THERE HAVE BEEN calls for criminal prosecutions as the police force behind the cover-up of its response to the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster said it is reopening its own inquiries into its conduct.
South Yorkshire Police today said that it was considering referring itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as it was disclosed that 195 officers who were on duty at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 are still in the force.
The report published yesterday found that officers changed over a hundred statements, checked the names of some victims against the police national computer and briefed the media with false stories in an attempt blame Liverpool fans for the crush which killed 96 people.
The panel which carried out the report also claimed that as many as 41 people could have survived the disaster had they been administered more adequate medical treatment.
Britain’s deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said that there should be a criminal inquiry into what happened at Hillsborough.
“I am reeling with horror at the revelations – despicable things happened. The wheels of justice must now turn but it seems to me there was criminal activity and police must pursue this,” he told the BBC.
While the former chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, Richard Wells, has said that it is “absolutely essential” that all those who were involved in the cover-up of Hillsborough should face prosecution.
He told ITV News: “I’m not specifically talking about the police alone. I’m saying anybody, absolutely anybody who has contributed in a dishonest or criminal way ought to be arraigned before the courts of law. Who it is will depend on what the evidence produces.”
‘Fans made it harder’
South Yorkshire Police’s chief constable has also said that if laws were broken then charges should be brought.
In a statement SYP said today: “South Yorkshire Police is currently reviewing a wide variety of matters raised in the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel with a view to making a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”
In another development today the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, who was a member of SYP and was off-duty when he attended the game in 1989 and later participated in its internal investigation has faced calls to resign.
Bettison said that he had “absolutely nothing to hide” over his conduct in relation to Hillsborough and said that he had “never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered”.
Despite the yesterday’s report absolving the fans of any blame for the disaster, Bettison insisted: “Fans behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be.”
The chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall said that the senior officer should resign while the Mayor of Liverpool has called for him to be stripped of his knighthood.
Videos, pics: A day of truth and revelations for Hillsborough families