Police forces agree Hillsborough compensation for 601 victims
South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police have agreed to pay damages following a civil claim for misfeasance in a public office on behalf of 601 claimants, solicitors representing the victims of the Hillsborough disaster have said.
A spokesman for Saunders Law, the lead solicitors for the group litigation, said the claim was started in 2015 and agreed earlier this year, but could not be reported until the conclusion of the trial of former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, who acted as solicitor for the force.
The three men, who were accused of amending police officers’ statements to minimise blame on the force, were each cleared of two counts of perverting the course of justice last week after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.
The bereaved families will receive the compensation for the campaign which sought to blame fans rather than the police for the disaster which families of the victims claim was a cover-up.
The Saunders Law spokesman said: “Through this civil claim for misfeasance in a public office, 601 victims sought justice and accountability for the deliberate, orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest police cover-up that supressed the truth about the responsibility of the police and blamed the football supporters for the horrific events that unfolded at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989.”
The disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium which led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final was investigated by West Midlands Police.
Lawyers said the cover-up had caused additional psychiatric injury to the survivors of the disaster and the families of those who died.
The spokesman added: “The settlement of these claims marks the end of an unparalleled and extraordinary fight for justice by the victims and their families.”
In 2012, then-chief constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton apologised for a cover-up following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
New inquests, which concluded in 2016, found that the 96 men, women and children who died were unlawfully killed and fans played no part in the causes of the disaster.
In the statement, Saunders Law said there had been “an almost complete failure of the justice system to deliver justice” and called on the Government to implement a Hillsborough Law, which would include a duty of candour for public officials.
The spokesman said: “We trust that this settlement will put an end to any fresh attempts to rewrite the record and wrongly claim that there was no cover-up.
“In so commenting, we contrast the dignity of the bereaved families and the supporters with the conduct of those who still seek to peddle the discredited lies of the past.”
The law firm said the police forces will pay damages to compensate each claimant for injuries they suffered and provide access to a treatment fund for further psychiatric treatment or counselling.
In cases where claimants have died, the compensation will be paid to their estate.