Hillsborough: public interest in prosecuting police 'overwhelming'
A former director of public prosecutions has said there is “overwhelming” public interest in prosecuting senior police officers over the deaths of 96 fans at Hillsborough after a jury concluded they were unlawfully killed.
Lord Macdonald who held the role from 2003 to 2008 added to growing calls for the police to be held to account for the disaster.
In reaching a verdict of unlawful killing over the deaths, the inquest jurors had to be convinced that Ch Supt David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died, that he was in breach of that duty and that the breach amounted to gross negligence.
The committed by officers and others leading to the disaster and the alleged police cover-up afterwards.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonald said: “Clearly these prosecutions would overwhelmingly be in the public interest, so the real question for the crown prosecution service is going to be: is a conviction more likely than not in this case? If the answer is yes then charges will be authorised.”
He added: “What we are seeing here is what happens when the great scrutinising agencies of society aren’t working, and we need to make sure scrutiny does work.”
Mcdonald set out what was involved in bringing a prosecution, saying: “I think the prosecution will be focusing primarily on individuals and of course they will be able to take into account any evidence which has come to light in the inquest. So one is looking at gross negligence, manslaughter, perversion of the course of justice, perjury, misconduct in a public office.”
If the CPS decided to prosecute Duckenfield, it would have to apply to lift a stay of prosecution ordered in 2000, Mcdonald pointed out.
Judge Anthony Hooper, who heard the private prosecution brought 17 years ago by the Hillsborough Family Support Group against Duckenfield and his deputy, Supt Bernard Murray, did not order a retrial after Murray was acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict on Duckenfield, and put a stay on any further prosecution.
Macdonald predicted that it would take a year for prosecutors to make a a decision. “We are told files will be with the CPS by the end of the year. The IPCC [independent police complaints commission] is indicating that it has information from the CPS that they will take four to six months to look at this, so we are not looking at a decision any time within a year.
“But all parties involved in this will be acutely aware of the great public interest in this being brought to a conclusion as speedily as is consistent with justice.”
Mcdonald also pointed out that a higher standard of proof is required for a criminal prosecution than an inquest.
“Criminal prosecution have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt so it is a much tougher hurdle for the prosecution to pass. We shouldn’t have convictions if there is doubt about the guilt of those involved.
“The police in those days were regimented, closed, protected from scrutiny, not sufficiently challenged by the courts or the political establishment. I think we have a franker relationship with the police now. We are having a glimpse in this case of quite how bad things were in those days. I remember practising as a young defence lawyer in the 1980s – the degree of impunity that the police had – not challenged, not scrutinised, closed, regimented.”
Bishop Tom Williams, who was a parish priest at the time of the disaster and conducted some of the funerals, backed calls for senior offices to be held to account.
Speaking to Today he said: “My first thought yesterday was of anger because it has took 27 years for the truth to come out. There has been lies and deceit and it has been organised. That’s what seems to be have been the message.
Asked if those responsible should be forgiven he said: “Forgiveness is important thing, I think we would use the word mercy. Mercy is about embracing what you have done wrong and accepting it and then asking for forgiveness.”
Asked whether officials should be prosecuted, Williams said: “I think it is chapter two, yes.”
Dorothy Griffiths, who lost her brother Vincent Fitzsimmons in the disaster, agreed that prosecutions should follow the inquest.
“Yes I think it is important. And I agree it is chapter two,” she said.
Theresa May, the home secretary, is due to set out the government’s response to the inquest’s findings in parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
At around the same time, the names of all those who died in the disaster will be read out at a commemoration service outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool.
休·格兰特的律师大卫·舍伯恩和电子艺游官方网站的律师卡琳·帕特里·霍斯金斯（Carine Patry Hoskins）：关于他们的关系的故事是否损害了莱维森？ 照片：PA Rob Wilson：'Leveson的回应令人担忧' 这种正义不仅必须完成，而且必须被视为已经完成，这是我们正义制度的公理
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