A new police investigation into the Hillsborough disaster was announced today by the Home Secretary.
Former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart will lead the new inquiry, which will focus specifically on the 96 deaths of Liverpool fans at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
Mr Stoddart will work closely with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster and will include organisations outside the IPCC’s remit.
Hillsborough Independent Panel
Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were truly shocking, but while the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice.
‘Jon Stoddart is a skilled and dedicated investigator who will bring a huge amount of policing experience to this demanding job.
‘I am giving the IPCC new powers to investigate police misconduct, but this investigation will ensure no body with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.
‘I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf.’
Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit investigators and staff to his team, but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough Disaster, nor those who have worked in West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.
He will be required to work closely with the IPCC investigation and pass any findings of misconduct against officers to IPCC investigators to ensure the police are not being investigated by the police.
Jon Stoddart said: ‘I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.
‘My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.
‘I have held a number of meetings already and have been struck by the families’ humility and steadfast determination to see justice delivered for their loved ones. My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies.
‘The report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel represents a quite dramatic development in what is known about the disaster and clearly adds significantly to the investigation.
‘There are a number of stages in the investigation and I will be working very closely with the Home Office and especially the IPCC to ensure we are working in a coordinated and integrated manner and that we resource the enquiry appropriately. Then we can start making some real progress.’
In addition to announcing the new investigation, the Home Secretary also revealed a Liaison Board will be established to bring together all organisations working to deliver justice for the Hillsborough families. It will help meet the government’s pledge to deliver swift results by ensuring work and information is shared.
Further scrutiny of the investigations will be performed by an Independent Challenge Panel to be established by the IPCC and the Director of Public Prosecutions. It will include independent experts nominated by family organisations and will also provide scrutiny of the Crown Prosecution Service’s role in the investigations.