Liverpool

Hillsborough: No evidence Met Chief Hogan-Howe lied about Hillsborough

bernard hogan-howe Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Sir Bernard has been Metropolitan Police commissioner since 2011

The police watchdog has found no evidence the Metropolitan Police commissioner deliberately lied about information he provided to an inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster.

It was alleged Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe misled journalists about a statement he gave to the Taylor Inquiry in 1990.

Sir Bernard has "no case to answer for misconduct", the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded.

He is still subject to another investigation under Operation Resolve.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final. Earlier this year fresh inquests found they were unlawfully killed.

Mistaken assumptions

Paul Spearritt, whose 14-year-old brother Adam died in the disaster, alleged Sir Bernard had been dishonest when he incorrectly told reporters in 2012 and 2013 that he had given a witness statement to the public inquiry into the disaster, chaired by Lord Justice Taylor.

Investigators found Sir Bernard and Met Police press office staff "mistakenly assumed" that a "brief verbal description" he gave to South Yorkshire Police (SYP) in May 1990 was a formal statement.

Image caption The 1989 match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground was called off six minutes after kick-off

The account was documented and passed on to West Midlands Police, the force which conducted the initial criminal investigation into the disaster.

The IPCC also found a written instruction on the database of the West Midlands Police asking for Sir Bernard to be contacted was misinterpreted.

This led to an assumption that Sir Bernard had declined to add information to this supposed formal "statement" when asked to do so, the watchdog said.

But the IPCC found no record of the request being made or a refusal by Sir Bernard to make a formal statement.

"Documenting brief verbal accounts from officers who were not on duty until after the disaster, like Sir Bernard, was a common practice adopted by SYP at this time," the watchdog said.

Deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said the probe "found no evidence that Sir Bernard deliberately attempted to mislead".

She added: "The evidence supports that he acted quickly to rectify this error after it had come to light, by issuing a further public statement setting out what had happened."

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption Adam Spearritt's name was read out on a list of survivors

A second complaint was lodged by Mr Spearritt alleging Sir Bernard incorrectly identified his younger brother as being alive, after reading his name from a list at the Hillsborough Boys' Club where families were sent to wait for news of their loved ones in the aftermath of the disaster.

The IPCC said Mr Spearritt is now satisfied Sir Bernard "was not the officer who read the list".

Operation Resolve, which is investigating whether anyone is criminally liable for the disaster, is examining events at the boys' club.

Sir Bernard, who on duty at the club as a South Yorkshire Police inspector, has provided a witness account to assist with the inquiries, the watchdog said.

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