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Wednesday 19th December 2012 | 10:31
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May): In September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel published their important report which sets out the truth about the Hillsborough disaster. I am today setting out the different pieces of work that will belatedly deliver justice for the victims and their families, and how this work fits together.
It will be the job of the criminal justice system and government to work in three areas:
Investigation will need to cover all aspects of the truth set out in the report. Where the panel interrogated the documents, investigation of their report will go further and investigate all of the people and organisations involved – before, on, and after 15th April 1989. Investigation could lead to criminal prosecution; for serving police officers it could also lead to misconduct proceedings. Investigation will be the responsibility of both the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Jon Stoddart. The IPCC will principally investigate the aftermath of Hillsborough; Jon Stoddart will principally investigate the deaths at Hillsborough. It is not possible to appoint a single lead investigator unless that person is a police officer. For something this serious and complex, where a previous police investigation into the police has failed already, we do not believe that the police should be solely responsible for investigating the actions of the police. Investigation of the police in such a serious case is the job of the IPCC.
New inquests will be established if the Attorney General is successful today in his application to the High Court to quash the existing inquest verdicts and order new inquests to be held. Inquests are likely to need to undertake further investigation. Responsibility for that, and for who conducts the inquests, as well as for their timing and location, will rest with the coroner.
Prosecution for criminal matters may flow from the findings of the investigation and the inquest. Prosecution will be the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will work closely with the investigations from the outset so that any risk to successful prosecutions is managed from the earliest stage, and throughout the process leading to the decision whether to prosecute and throughout any subsequent prosecution should there be any.
There will be two investigations – one into the deaths at Hillsborough and one into the police actions in the aftermath. The investigations will be integrated, working from the same office in Warrington. They will be run from a single major incident room, share access to documents and other evidence, and work together on liaison with families and survivors.
The IPCC has powers to investigate the police - serving and retired, for both criminality and misconduct – but does not have powers to investigate the other people and organisations involved in the Hillsborough disaster; Jon Stoddart, as a police officer, has the powers necessary to investigate these others. This is why the investigation into the aftermath will be headed by Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair, and the investigation into the deaths will be headed by Jon Stoddart. Investigation into the deaths will overlap both investigations – covering the police, as well as all the other organisations and individuals involved in decisions and actions ahead of, and on 15th April 1989. Jon Stoddart’s investigation will report findings to the IPCC, in relation to police officers investigated.
The CPS will work closely with the investigations from the outset so that any risk to successful prosecutions is managed from the earliest stage, and throughout the process leading to prosecution.
Should new inquests be ordered, the coroner may decide that they need to direct further investigation into aspects of the deaths. It will be for the coroner to decide how that investigation should be conducted, if it is necessary.
The IPPC and Jon Stoddart’s investigations will not employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster, nor who have worked in West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.
Jon Stoddart and Deborah Glass will be resourced to appoint investigators and staff as necessary to ensure that they each have the team they need to investigate all aspects of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report as fully and swiftly as possible.
Jon Stoddart recently retired as Chief Constable of Durham Police. He is being appointed to the Metropolitan Police as an Assistant Commissioner (a rank equivalent to chief constable). This ensures that he can be re-attested as a police officer and can hold the same senior rank that he held before he retired. He will not be under the direction and control of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in leading this investigation and nor would the Commissioner be responsible for any complaints raised against him. He will initially be seconded to the Home Office and then, once it exists in law, to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
I, the Home Secretary, lead in government for co-ordination of this work.
The Bishop of Liverpool has agreed to act as an adviser to me on Hillsborough.
A liaison board will be supported by the Home Office to bring together the individuals and organisations responsible for this work on a regular basis. It will work to integrate the three major pieces of work, ensuring effective planning, organisation and exchange of information, as well as avoiding duplication and unnecessary delay. It will provide assurance to me in my coordinating role.
The IPCC and CPS are establishing an independent challenge panel which will inform and advise the investigations and the work of the CPS. This will involve independent experts, including individuals nominated by the Hillsborough Family Support Group and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
I have already said that we will ensure that the IPCC has both the resource and powers that it requires to undertake the investigations necessary. The Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill has passed both the Lords and Commons stages and we are currently awaiting Royal Assent. The Bill will give two new powers to the IPCC to assist them in investigating the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report. The new powers are: to require a serving police officer to attend an interview as a witness; and to enable the IPCC to investigate matters which were previously investigated by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Now that the truth about the Hillsborough disaster has finally been revealed, it is crucial that Government and the criminal justice system moves swiftly to make sure that justice is done for all the loved ones who died on that day in 1989, and those who have been campaigning on their behalf ever since.