CPS statement on Hillsborough ruling
The Nightingale Court at The Lowry Theatre, Manchester, has found there is no case for Peter Metcalf, former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster to answer on the charges of perverting the course of justice in relation to their actions following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Sue Hemming, director of legal services at the CPS, said: “Words cannot describe the sheer devastation of the Hillsborough disaster and the impact on the family and friends of the 96 who died, and hundreds more who were injured.
“Previously the Taylor Inquiry, the Popper Inquest, the Stuart Smith Inquiry, a private prosecution, the Hillsborough Independent Panel process, a new inquest and two further criminal trials have all examined what happened at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.
“The appalling events of that day have also overshadowed the lives of the families and friends of all those who died. They live with their grief to this day. They have faced untrue allegations about the behaviour of Liverpool fans that they were complicit in causing those deaths. The true causes of the disaster have been examined in subsequent proceedings and fan behaviour was firmly eliminated as a cause. They were football fans simply attending a football game to support their team. Their loved ones were unlawfully killed through the negligence of others.
“Since 2013 we have worked closely with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to bring prosecutions against a number of individuals for offences committed before the day of the match, on the day of the match or in the aftermath.
“This is the first time that people have appeared in court for actions following the disaster. It has been a complex case looking at evidence from three decades ago and whether the defendants deliberately changed police statements in order to mislead future inquiries.
“It is crucial that we presented the evidence gathered by the IOPC investigation teams to a court and we have worked tirelessly to prepare the case for the jury to understand this evidence and any implications resulting from the amended statements.
“After long and incredibly careful consideration, especially for the families involved, we decided not to appeal the ruling. The CPS was right to bring this case and for a court to hear the evidence of what happened in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
“What has been heard here in this court will have been surprising to many. That a publicly funded authority can lawfully withhold information from a public inquiry charged with finding out why 96 people died at a football match, in order to ensure that it never happened again - or that a solicitor can advise such a withholding, without sanction of any sort, may be a matter which should be subject to scrutiny.
“Throughout, we have kept in regular contact with bereaved families and I fully appreciate how disappointing this outcome will be for them. As we have done at each stage of our work, we will meet with them again to answer any questions they may have.”