Freemasons will assist in the
inquiry into the 1989 disaster,
the IPCC announced
Claims that high-ranking Freemasons tried to cover up the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
As part of its ongoing inquiry into the 1989 tragedy, the IPCC is looking into concerns that certain officers were protected by, or otherwise benefitted from, their alleged ties with Masonic lodges.
Match Commander David Duckenfield has faced particular scrutiny in this regard, and faces claims that he was only promoted to the position as a result of nepotism.
In an update published on Thursday (August 25), IPCC deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: “We are pursuing a line of inquiry on Freemasons.
“We are currently liaising with the United Grand Lodge of England, and they are assisting us by checking whether certain individuals involved in Hillsborough were Freemasons members.”
An inquests’ jury concluded in April that the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough were unlawfully killed, and that mistakes made by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) “caused or contributed” to what happened.
Chief Superintendent Duckenfield told the inquiry that he had been a Freemason since 1975, and while he hoped his promotion had been unrelated to this, he was unable to say it had not contributed.
Chief Supt Duckenfield’s predecessor was a member of the same lodge.
Jurors also heard evidence from a police constable that “a substantial meeting” between senior officers rumoured to be Freemasons took place in the days after the disaster.
However, this claim was dismissed by coroner Sir John Goldring as nothing more than “gossip”.
Alongside the Freemasonry inquiry, the IPCC has commissioned further searches of SYP premises, is contacting officers whose pocketbooks revealed new areas of interest, and is continuing to examine allegations made against the former chief constable, David Crompton.
A separate investigation called ‘Operation Resolve’ is also looking into causes of the disaster, and is considering charges including gross negligence manslaughter and misconduct in public office.
In her update, Ms Cerfontyne added: “Both the IPCC and Operation Resolve continue to provide the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with files of evidence so that they can provide early advice and guidance on our key lines of inquiry.
“This is an ongoing process and is our main focus at the moment. We are prioritising their requests and working to deadlines to deliver any additional investigative, analytical and/or research work they need.
“As I have stated previously, this is in preparation for charging decisions, which the CPS will make three to six months after they receive full files of evidence from the investigations at the end of the year.”