Team of 100 set to probe 1989 tragedy

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South Yorkshire Police logo

A TEAM of 100 investigators is being recruited to carry out the criminal inquiry into claims of a cover up over the Hillsborough disaster – the biggest task ever faced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

They will interview up to 2,400 officers from South Yorkshire Police who were on duty on the day of the tragedy and will seek to collect more than 450,000 documents from authorities. Many of the officers will be from Doncaster.

The report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel last September found officers altered 116 out of 164 of their statements to remove or amend comments that were unfavourable to the force.

The IPCC’s probe is focusing on attempts to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster in April 1989 and what has been described in parliament as a black propaganda campaign by the police.

In total, 96 people died in the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

IPCC chairwoman, Dame Anne Owers, says the challenge is greater than any previous controversial inquiries – including the fatal shooting by police of Jean Charles de Menezes after the London bombings of 2005.

To cope with the job, the IPCC has been given new powers to compel police and others to give evidence as witnesses.

Dame Anne said: “Clearly it is a test and a challenge. But it is also an opportunity for us to show what we can do if we are properly resourced to do a big job.”

The 100 new investigators will be drawn from both police and non-police backgrounds for work that will take months to complete.

The IPCC will work alongside a separate probe by the former chief constable of Durham, Jon Stoddart, who will focus on any criminal culpability for the 96 deaths at the FA Cup semi-final.

The commission is also looking at the investigation carried out by the West Midlands force in 1989-90, which the Hillsborough families claim was too sympathetic to South Yorkshire Police..