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Met Police will 'neither confirm nor deny' if undercover officers spied on Hillsborough campaigners

Scotland Yard said they did not answer an FOI on the issue as it was a matter of “national security”.

Twisted fencing at Hillsborough in the aftermath of the stadium tragedy.
Twisted fencing at Hillsborough in the aftermath of the stadium tragedy.
Image: Press Association Images

THE METROPOLITAN POLICE have today attempted to explain why they have not been forthcoming with details about whether undercover officers were deployed into the Hillsborough campaign.

In a statement released today, they said that they “will neither confirm nor deny” if they did have undercover officers spy on campaigners.

Scotland Yard said they would not clarify matters as to whether it was true or false as they had “to protect national security and undercover police tactics”, the force has said.

Families

The BBC reported last week that relatives of Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster wanted answers from the Metropolitan Police after Private Eye magazine had a freedom of information (FOI) request turned down by the police.

The Hillsborough disaster took place on 15 April 1989 when 96 people were crushed to death in Britain’s worst sporting disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The statement from the police states that they have been asked in recent days whether undercover officers were deployed into the Hillsborough campaign, but state:

We replied that we will neither confirm nor deny details of the deployment of undercover officers.

This is a long-established practice to avoid criminals targeted for undercover operations drawing conclusions if we were to give negative answers in some cases but not comment in others.

Once we start denying false or incorrect allegations, our silence in other cases could be taken as a confirmation, and that could be very damaging and dangerous for those who risk their lives to combat organised and serious criminality.

They added that the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy is a practice they also follow in the courts when asked whether an individual was an informant or an undercover officer, and say that judges have accepted its legitimacy in the interests of the wider public good.

While they said “it may look strange in an era of greater transparency and accountability” they said they believe that the policy “protects those who take the greatest risks on all our behalf”.

They said the reason the FOI request was not answered was to “to protect national security and under cover police tactics” and that it was not “a comment upon any of the Hillsborough Groups”.

They concluded that “no-one has drawn to our attention any evidence that has been published to suggest that undercover officers were deployed over Hillsborough”.

Read: Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams honoured with touching BBC tribute at SPOTY awards>

One year on: Hillsborough families left ‘dismayed’ by lack of progress>

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