Liverpool

Cut pensions in police misconduct cases, says Labour after Hillsborough

Hillsborough vigil Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Labour says no other families should have to suffer like the Hillsborough victims' relatives

Retired police officers found guilty of misconduct should have their pensions cut, the Labour Party has said.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham made the call following the Hillsborough Inquests, which concluded police blunders caused the tragedy.

He said it was a scandal police officers could retire on full pensions and evade misconduct proceedings.

The Home Office said there is provision for disciplining retired officers in the Policing and Crime Bill.

Labour plans to add its proposals as amendments to be tabled to the bill next month.

Mr Burnham said the party believed families should receive the same level of funding for legal representation as police at inquests involving officers.

And after concerns about the way journalists were fed information by some South Yorkshire Police officers he has called for a ban on off-the record briefings to reporters during investigations.

He said: "It is impossible to say how much harm was caused by those malicious briefings which led to the front page in The Sun that blamed Liverpool supporters."

The paper's infamous and discredited front page on the Monday after the tragedy bore the headline "The Truth", with claims that fans picked the pockets of the dead, urinated on police and beat up an officer administering first aid.

Mr Burnham added some police officers were able to get away with these "malicious lies" because they were communicated anonymously.

He also called for the second stage of Lord Leveson's inquiry into media ethics to proceed with a focus on police and press relations.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hillsborough must mark a moment of real change said Mr Burnham

Last month a jury concluded that 96 football fans were unlawfully killed and police blunders "caused or contributed to" the 1989 disaster at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup Semi-Final at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield.

Mr Burnham said: "The Hillsborough families have walked the hardest road imaginable over those 27 years, and that journey has exposed just how unfair this country is, just how the odds are stacked against people and loaded in favour of the authorities.

"Hillsborough must mark a moment of real change - when Parliament resolves to rebalance the police and criminal justice system and put more power in the hands of ordinary people."

He added: "Never again should any bereaved families have to fight like the Hillsborough families have had to fight."

Money 'spent like water'

Mr Burnham, who led the Parliamentary campaign on behalf of the Hillsborough families, said he hoped to enlist cross-party support.

"We must call time on the uneven playing field at inquests where public bodies spend public money like water on hiring the best lawyers when ordinary families have to scratch around for whatever they can get.

"Public money should be spent on helping us get to the truth, not on protecting the public sector."

Labour's proposed amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill in the Commons also include:

  • No time limit on the period a retired officer can be investigated for misconduct
  • Retrospective powers leading to sanctions such as pension cuts for retired officers
  • The Home Secretary must ask each police force to publish a code of practice governing interactions with the media
  • No former police staff to serve on the executive of the Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • The common law offence of misconduct in public office to be a criminal offence.

He added: "After the Hillsborough verdict, Parliament has an unprecedented moment where it can act to rebalance the country in favour of ordinary families."

His call comes on the day Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman Margaret Aspinall will speak to MPs about her personal experience of the police and the criminal justice system over the last 27 years.

A Home Office spokesman said: "As the Home Secretary told the House of Commons, lessons must be learnt from the ordeals gone through by families. That is why she has asked Bishop James Jones to write a report to ensure the perspectives of families are not lost."

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption The Hillsborough Inquests concluded the fans were unalwfully killed

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