Hillsborough: Theresa May backs prosecutions

Theresa May
Image caption The home secretary said the report was "deeply shocking"

Police officers or anyone else who broke the law over the Hillsborough disaster should be prosecuted, the home secretary has said.

Theresa May said she was still digesting the report into the tragedy published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel last week.

She said Home Office officials have been asked to help with investigations into individual and systemic issues.

The report found police tried to blame fans for the disaster on 15 April 1989.

It revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the 96 lives lost at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium could have been saved.

The panel found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter "unfavourable" comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.

'Deeply shocking'

Families of those who died in the crush on the terraces have confirmed they are urging the attorney general to apply for new inquests.

They are also demanding full and immediate investigations into criminal prosecutions and, where appropriate, applying for civil proceedings to be reopened.

The victims' families want any new inquests to take place in Liverpool rather than Sheffield.

Mrs May said the report was "deeply shocking and disturbing in what it sets out".

She made her comments in a letter to Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Image caption The report found police tried to blame fans for the disaster on 15 April 1989

She said: "We are still digesting what is a comprehensive report into a complicated series of issues, as well as the various ways in which the report needs to be acted upon in order to move from truth to justice.

"That being said, I am absolutely clear that those who have broken the law should be pursued and, if the evidence is sufficient, prosecuted.

"Investigating individual criminality where there is new evidence or new allegations that have not previously been investigated, whether on the part of serving or retired police officers, is the remit of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

"I am fully prepared to make use of all the powers available to me, as well as to deploy the various investigative and regulatory bodies, including Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, to work at speed and in close co-operation with one another, to undertake whatever is needed to resolve the very serious problems identified in the independent panel's report."

'Close eye'

Panel chairman, The Bishop of Liverpool, has called for investigations into "systems as well as people".

The Right Reverend James Jones, said: "One of the things that needs to be addressed is how do we archive and access police records? How do we archive and access coroners' records?

"Because these are not covered by the Public Records Act it means that they can't be brought into the public domain in the way that other public records are."

Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman Margaret Aspinall said she was "heartened" by the home secretary's statements.

She added: "We will also be keeping a very close eye on the relevant bodies ourselves to make sure everything is done properly.

"We won't be behind the scenes. We have to be kept informed of everything that is going on."

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