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HILLSBOROUGH: 242 police accounts of the disaster believed to have been changed
1:46pm Wednesday 12th February 2014 in News
THE Home Secretary has revealed 242 police accounts made after the Hillsborough disaster are now believed to have been amended.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Theresa May disclosed that an appeal for new witnesses by the Independent Police Complaints Commission led to 1,600 new statements from supporters who were at the game - including 250 from fans who had never been spoken to before.
There have been a further 400 requests from supporters to see their original statements, and 2,500 police pocket notebooks have been released which have never before been examined.
Ms May told the House: "These pocket books had not been made available to previous investigations and are now being analysed by IPCC investigators.
"The IPCC has also conducted further analysis of the 242 police accounts now believed to have been amended."
Ninety-six supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, when Liverpool were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.
Twelve of those who lost their lives were from Wirral.
The Home Secretary was providing MPs with an update on progress made since the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel was published.
The panel's report found there were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and was highly-critical of the emergency services’ response.
Ms May confirmed fresh inquests would begin in Warrington on March 31, after the original accidental death verdicts were quashed by the High Court in December 2012.
Wirral South MP Alison McGovern expressed her support for the families of Hillsborough victims and raised the issue of police pocket notebooks.
“Why were these 2,500 notebooks not made available to previous investigations?” she asked.
Ms May replied that she did not know.
“The IPCC now has those notebooks and they are being looked at by investigators. These will be questions I am sure they will be asking,” she said.
She also urged any police officers with notebooks that had not been handed in, to do so and asked anyone with any information relevant to the disaster to come forward.
Investigations by the IPCC are ongoing into both South Yorkshire and West Midlands police, who were tasked with producing a definitive report for the Lord Justice Taylor inquiry, which established the main cause of the disaster as a failure of police crowd control.
Operation Resolve, the criminal inquiry being led by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart, principally investigating the deaths at Hillsborough, is gathering and analysing evidence for the new inquests.
It is also collecting information to establish whether any organisations or individuals should face charges of manslaughter by neglect.
Ms May said digital imagery enhancement techniques not available before were helping the inquiry analyse audio and visual evidence to build “the fullest possible picture” of what happened.
"As Jon Stoddart has said, if we find there were health and safety breaches or evidence of willful neglect, we will seek to ensure the appropriate action is taken against those responsible.
"If we find that with the benefit of hindsight there are lessons to be learned we will endeavour to ensure that they are addressed.
"And if we find evidence of criminal behaviour, including manslaughter through neglect, we will seek to lay charges and put people and organisations before the courts."
She said family forums, proposed by the Rt Revd James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool and chairman of the independent panel, are now taking place regularly.
The forums provide a regular and structured opportunity for bereaved families to have face-to-face discussions with those conducting and advising the investigations, and they provide an important opportunity for the families to probe and ask questions.
The Home Secretary's statement conclued: "Bishop James Jones in recent conversations with me has described the families’ position as being encouraged but not persuaded.
"Mr Speaker, this is a sentiment I can understand and as we approach the 25th anniversary of the tragedy it is the sentiment which underlies my continuing commitment to do everything I can to ensure that the process of disclosing the truth, started by the panel, is followed by the process of justice."