POLICE officers abused their power on an “industrial scale” to help cover up failings that led to the Hillsborough disaster, lawyers representing families of the victims have claimed.
Relatives of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 tragedy are to press ahead with legal action against South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police amid allegations of a “widespread police cover-up” which had attempted to blame fans.
Saunders Law, a London-based legal firm, yesterday confirmed that hundreds from the Hillsborough Families Support Group are to sue the two forces for damages.
In a statement, it said: “The claims concern the cover-up and actions intended to wrongly blame the deceased and Liverpool Football Club supporters for the tragedy.Despite a half-hearted admission after publication of the Hillsborough Independent Report, we now learn South Yorkshire Police spent an estimated £19 million of taxpayers’ money on defending the indefensible at the inquest.”
The statement said there was evidence that both South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police – which was brought in to carry out the original investigation into the conduct of officers – were involved in a “systematic cover-up” involving spreading lies and doctoring evidence.
It added: “The evidence points to abuse on an industrial scale by both South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police, beyond any ‘one bad apple’ analysis.”
Earlier this week, a jury found that police and emergency services were to blame for the disaster, passing a verdict of unlawful killing.
The legal action was filed last year, but a High Court order prevented publication of any information about it until the inquests had ended.
David Crompton, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, was suspended from his post on Tuesday and is not expected to return before his retirement in November.
Last night the acting chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, who yesterday replaced Mr Crompton has offered to step down after it emerged her conduct at a previous force was being investigated.