Hillsborough files: Report raises spectre of criminal cases and shaming

Sir Irvine Patnick, named in the Hillsborough independent report. Picture: PA
Sir Irvine Patnick, named in the Hillsborough independent report. Picture: PA
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THE head of South Yorkshire Police has said he is open to the possibility of criminal prosecution of those implicated in the Hillsborough report.

Chief Constable David Crompton said that “if people are shown to have acted criminally, then they should face prosecution”.

Meanwhile, Sir Irvine Patnick, a former Sheffield Hallam MP named as the source of the Sun story blaming fans for the deaths, is facing calls that he should be stripped of his knighthood.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel documents revealed “substantive amendments were made” to statements by South Yorkshire Police to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about policing, and that South Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were “subject to the same process”.

Mr Crompton apologised to the families of the 96 people who lost their lives, and said he was “shocked” by the content of the report. Any investigation into South Yorkshire Police may be conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission or another force.

The IPCC said it would need a referral from police, and fresh evidence, before launching an investigation.

A spokesman said: “The IPCC’s predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority, has already been involved with the Hillsborough case. “The IPCC could only look again at this case if we were to receive a referral with new evidence.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said Attorney General Dominic Grieve would review the report and decide whether to order a new inquest. That could precede any criminal action.

The families brought a private prosecution for manslaughter against former chief superintendent David Duckenfield and former superintendent Bernard Murray, of South Yorkshire Police, in 2000. Mr Murray, who died from cancer in March 2006, was found not guilty.

The jury failed to reach a verdict against Mr Duckenfield.

He had faced disciplinary proceedings at South Yorkshire Police, but retired because of ill health in 1990, before they could be completed. He reportedly moved to a village near Bournemouth with his wife, Ann, less than a year later.

Meanwhile, Sir Irvine has declined to comment on his role in the coverage of the disaster.

The former Tory MP was named as one of the sources for the Sun’s story 23 years ago.

He is said to have suggested that “drunk and aggressive” fans forced entry to the football ground and contributed to the deadly crush.

Labour back-bencher John Mann said he had written to Mr Cameron calling for Sir Irvine to be stripped of his title.

“The shameful and disgusting behaviour of Sir Irvine Patnick is a significant feature in the Hillsborough independent panel report and his knighthood should be removed immediately,” he said.