Hillsborough Families ‘To Sue Police Forces’

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Hundreds of families of Liverpool fans involved in the Hillsborough tragedy are to bring a class action against South Yorkshire and West Midlands police forces.

Both forces being pursued by relatives of the victims – and survivors – are accused of “a systematic cover-up” in the civil claim which alleges “abuse on an industrial scale”.

Sky’s Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said: “Something like 386 are joined together in a class action. They are suing the forces for damages.

“It was issued at the High Court last year, but could not be reported until the outcome of the inquests. The forces have up to seven months to respond.

“One of the claimants is a woman, a young girl at the time, who was bullied at school over allegations that her father who died at Hillsborough was in some way responsible for his own death – and the death of others,” said Brunt.

Saunders Law, a London-based firm, is coordinating the action.

James Saunders, senior partner, told Sky News: “There is evidence of a systematic cover-up intended to transfer the blame for what happened from South Yorkshire Police to the innocent by spreading lies, doctoring evidence, pressurising witnesses and suppressing the truth.

“The evidence points to abuse on an industrial scale by both South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police beyond any one bad apple analysis.

“In addition to actions by individuals, the evidence suggests institutional misfeasance by these bodies directed against our clients and the fans generally.”

It comes as families expressed outrage after former South Yorkshire Police officers were reportedly told they “did a good job” during the 1980s in a message that mistakenly appeared on a website in the wake of the Hillsborough inquests.

The retired officers are understood to have been told they had tried to act with dignity while “bile and hatred” was directed towards the force.

The jury at the inquests ruled the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed – and that the behaviour of supporters was not a factor in the tragedy at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Jurors also concluded blunders by the police and ambulance services “caused or contributed to” the deaths.

Two investigations into the tragedy are under way, one a criminal probe into the deaths called Operation Resolve. The other is being carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A decision on whether to bring prosecutions will be taken once investigators have handed in their reports to the Crown Prosecution Service, likely in three to six months’ time.

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