South Yorkshire and West Midlands police pay damages over Hillsborough
South Yorkshire and West Midlands police forces will pay damages to 601 people over Hillsborough disaster, it can be revealed after collapse of trial of three officers accused of ‘cover-up’
- South Yorkshire and West Midlands forces agreed the settlement earlier this year
- Followed civil claim for misfeasance in public office on behalf of 601 claimants
- Nobody was convicted after 96 Liverpool fans died at 1989 FA Cup semi-final
- Solicitors’ spokesperson said the claim was started in 2015 and agreed in April
Two police forces have agreed to pay damages to more than 600 people after a ‘cover-up’ following the Hillsborough disaster, lawyers have said.
The South Yorkshire and West Midlands forces agreed on the payout over what 601 claimants say was an ‘orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest police cover-up’ of who was to blame for the 1989 disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
The settlement was agreed following a civil claim for misfeasance in a public office on behalf of the claimants, solicitors representing the victims said.
Nobody has ever being convicted over the alleged cover-up following the tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final.
A spokesman for Saunders Law – the lead solicitors for the group litigation – said the claim was started in 2015 and agreed in April.
But it could not be reported until the conclusion of the trial of former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, who acted as solicitor for the force.
Two police forces have agreed to pay damages to more than 600 people after a ‘cover-up’ following the Hillsborough disaster (pictured), lawyers have said
The claim could not be reported until the conclusion of the trial of former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, (left) retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, (centre) and Peter Metcalf, 71, (right) who acted as solicitor for the force
The three men were accused of amending police officers’ statements to minimise blame on the force.
But each were cleared of two counts of perverting the course of justice last week after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.
In a ruling handed down at the Nightingale court at the Lowry Theatre in Salford last month, judge Mr Justice William Davis accepted the statements had been changed.
But he added that because it was for a public inquiry – not a legal court case – their alterations had not thwarted justice.
The Saunders Law spokesman said: ‘Through this civil claim for misfeasance in a public office, 601 victims sought justice and accountability for the deliberate, orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest police cover-up that supressed the truth about the responsibility of the police and blamed the football supporters for the horrific events that unfolded at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989.’
The disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium was investigated by West Midlands Police.
Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, outside Anfield stadium after the trial collapsed in May
Lawyers said the alleged cover-up had caused additional psychiatric injury to the survivors of the disaster and the families of those who died.
The spokesman added: ‘The settlement of these claims marks the end of an unparalleled and extraordinary fight for justice by the victims and their families.’
In 2012, then-chief constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton apologised for a ‘cover-up’ following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
New inquests, which concluded in 2016, found that the 96 men, women and children who died were unlawfully killed and fans played no part in the causes of the disaster.
In the statement, Saunders Law said there had been ‘an almost complete failure of the justice system to deliver justice’ and called on the Government to implement a Hillsborough Law, which would include a duty of candour for public officials.
Former lawyer Peter Metcalf, 71, outside the Lowry Theatre in Salford for the opening of their trial in April
Retired chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, (left) and retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, (right) leaving the Lowry theatre today after the judge’s ruling in May
The spokesman said: ‘We trust that this settlement will put an end to any fresh attempts to rewrite the record and wrongly claim that there was no cover-up.
‘In so commenting, we contrast the dignity of the bereaved families and the supporters with the conduct of those who still seek to peddle the discredited lies of the past.’
The law firm said the police forces will pay damages to compensate each claimant for injuries they suffered and provide access to a treatment fund for further psychiatric treatment or counselling.
In cases where claimants have died, the compensation will be paid to their estate.
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