Hillsborough: Police cover-up 'known for years'

image captionTributes to those who died were left at the Hillsborough Memorial at Liverpool's Anfield stadium

Files detailing police cover-ups over the Hillsborough disaster were given to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) 14 years ago, it has been claimed.

Alun Jones QC led a private prosecution for manslaughter against senior police officers who were in charge when 96 Liverpool fans died in April 1989.

Mr Jones said the CPS needed to explain why it did "absolutely nothing".

A separate complaint against a senior officer involved in the disaster, Sir Norman Bettison, is to be investigated.

The decision to refer the complaint involving West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was taken at a meeting on Saturday.

Sir Norman, who was with South Yorkshire Police at the time of Hillsborough, said he welcomed the step.

'Gravity of consipracy'

A report published on Wednesday laid bare a police cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to the victims.

Writing in the Independent newspaper, Mr Jones said the Hillsborough Family Support Group launched the private prosecution of Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray because of the Director of Public Prosecutions's (DPP) failure to act.

Mr Jones wrote in the newspaper: "We furnished the DPP, and Attorney General, with an analysis demonstrating the gravity of the conspiracy, but also proving that critical evidence of non-police witnesses had been withheld from the DPP and coroner in 1990.

"We showed how the tampering exercise was organised. I was clear that crimes of perverting the course of justice had been committed, but not by whom, and it was beyond the power of the families to investigate."

The prosecution failed in 2000.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman told the paper: "The Crown Prosecution Service was approached in 1998 by both parties to the private prosecution and asked to take it over.

"At the time we concluded we would not intervene and the private prosecution went ahead.

"We provided documentation to the Hillsborough Independent Panel about the reasons behind this decision in 1998 and the panel has made no criticism of the CPS or the DPP over this."

'More formal'

The decision to refer the separate complaint about Sir Norman Bettison to the IPCC was taken by the West Yorkshire Police Authority's Special Committee.

Committee chairman Richard Baldwin said: "It is important the facts are fully established and evidence considered from other sources before any further decisions are taken.

image captionSir Norman Bettison said he "welcomes" the IPCC inquiry

"The IPCC, as an independent body with a statutory duty to uphold the police complaints system, is best placed to conduct such investigations."

Sir Norman said: "It is time this moved into a more formal and legal inquiry, where it can be considered, analysed and fully assessed."

On Friday he apologised for any upset caused by his statement Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing at the Hillsborough tragedy "harder than it needed to be".

He said his role was never to "besmirch" the fans and said the Reds' supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.

Flags at Sunderland's Stadium of Light flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to those who died at Hillsborough.

The home side took on Liverpool in the club's first match since the findings of the Hillsborough panel were released.

The Gerry and the Pacemakers song You'll Never Walk is now number one in iTunes singles chart following a campaign sparked on Twitter by Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram.

He tweeted: "People have asked what they can do now. If you download You'll Never Walk Alone, it will send a message to the rest of the Country!#YNWAno1"

The MP then said Gerry Marsden had agreed to donate any proceeds to Hillsborough charities, calling him a "great man".

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