Police to be probed over conduct in Hillsborough soccer disaster

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 4:19am

The largest independent probe into British police was launched yesterday to examine potential criminal actions by officers involved in the 1989 Hillsborough soccer disaster, in which 96 spectators died after a crowd crush in the stadium.

Serving and former officers, including those in senior positions, could face charges or misconduct proceedings for failings and cover-ups over Britain's worst sporting disaster, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to families of the victims after a damning report detailed a catalogue of errors and evidence that police dishonestly tried to deflect blame on to fans of Liverpool soccer club.

The victims died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

An independent panel found the police response to the disaster had been flawed and 41 lives could have been saved.

It also concluded that police had sought to blame the Liverpool fans, while senior police edited their officers' witness statements from the day to paint them in a less damaging light.

South Yorkshire Police removed negative comments from 116 out of 164 police statements.

"[The report's] contents provoked a demand for those responsible for the actions revealed in the report to be held to account," said IPCC deputy chairman Deborah Glass.