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Hillsborough - High Court Claim Issued to secure accountability

 

UPDATED - 28 April 2016

We have been acting for many of the Hillsborough families for some years and welcome the inquest jury findings that the 96 were unlawfully killed by South Yorkshire Police, and that neither the 96 nor the fans were in any way to blame. The stark truth about how the 96 died has at last been officially recognised and the families' long campaign is vindicated. After truth, the families now seek Justice, and look to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Operation Resolve to work with the Crown Prosecution Service in bringing merited criminal charges relating to the unlawful killings.

In addition to the police wrongdoing that caused the deaths, there is evidence of the systematic cover up intended to transfer the blame for what happened from South Yorkshire Police to the innocent, by spreading lies, doctoring evidence, pressurising witnesses and suppressing the truth. The evidence points to abuse on an industrial scale by both South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police, beyond any “one bad apple” analysis. In addition to actions by individuals, the evidence suggests institutional misfeasance by these bodies directed against our clients and the fans generally.

Our clients believe that Justice will only be established through accountability. Accordingly we issued High Court Claims for Misfeasance in Public Office against South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police in 2015 on behalf of several hundred of those affected. The claims concern the cover up and actions intended to wrongly blame the deceased and Liverpool Football Club supporters for the tragedy, for which there has still been no proper admission or apology. Despite a half hearted admission after publication of the Hillsborough Independent Report, we now learn South Yorkshire Police spent an estimated £19m of tax payers’ money on defending the indefensible at the inquest.

Misfeasance in Public Office is a cause of action in the civil courts of England and Wales. It is an action against the holder of a public office, alleging that the office-holder has misused or abused their power. A police force is vicariously liable for the Misfeasance of its officers.

We hope to meet the IPCC and Operation Resolve in the near future. They have been investigating allegations against individual officers, and so have material relevant to the misfeasance action. Our clients also wish to ensure that the right of any suspects to a fair criminal trial is not diminished by the misfeasance action.

After issuing the claims last year we secured a Contempt of Court Act order from a High Court Judge preventing publication of any information about the claims until the inquest ended, to avoid any risk of prejudice to the inquest. The claims were also stayed until the inquest verdicts were given, which was on 26th April 2016, and we now propose to move the claims forward to secure accountability.

A number of media outlets have reported that our clients seek the sum of £20million from either South Yorkshire or West Midlands Police.

This is wholly wrong.

Our clients’ claim has been issued for an unspecified amount to be determined by the Court and is first and foremost about obtaining accountability for the cover up.

No comment from either this firm or our clients has been made in relation to possible damages.

James Saunders and Nia Williams lead the Saunders Law team.

 
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