The Lawyer, September 2012 – James Saunders comments re Hillsborough

Ex-Hammonds Suddards partner set to be referred to SRA over Hillsborough "cover-up"

17 September 2012 | By Sam Chadderton

Peter Metcalf, the former Hammond Suddards partner implicated in last week's Hillsborough report, could face a Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation for his conduct following the 1989 tragedy.

The former partner at Squire Sanders' UK legacy firm told The Lawyer last week that he was retired. But he is still registered with the SRA as a practising solicitor, working as a consultant for his own firm PC Metcalf.

As Metcalf is still on the roll the SRA would be able to examine whether he failed to uphold the integrity of the law in the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool FC fans died.

An SRA spokesman said: "We are aware of the reports and are considering them."

Members of the Hillsborough Families Support Group and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign have pledged to continue to fight for fresh inquests and then criminal action, describing a "clear conspiracy to cover up".

Solicitor James Saunders, a managing director with Saunders Law, is formally instructed by the Hillsborough Family Support Group to pursue further action.

He told The Lawyer: "I'm instructed to take certain contentious steps to advance their interests, some of that is litigation, some regulatory. I'm looking at a great deal of information very carefully with a view to taking action."

Saunders has previously said it is up to the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve to apply to the High Court to quash the current inquest verdict which he said was "based on evidence that had been tampered with and and untrue version of events".

Although he refused to be drawn on the HFSG's next move, it is understood that making an official complaint about Metcalf to the SRA is imminent.

Under SRA legislation, all solicitors are under an obligation to uphold the law and work in the interests of justice.

In the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, released last week, Metcalf was named as being involved in the process of the "review and alteration" of police officers' recollections about the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The report, published on Wednesday, claims that Metcalf, recommended that a South Yorkshire Police (SYP) chief amend statements taken by officers in the aftermath of the disaster and that 116 of the 164 statements from officers identified for "substantive amendment" were amended to remove "comments unfavourable to SYP".

The report states: "Prior to the [1998] Stuart-Smith Scrutiny, an SYP officer had revealed that in the immediate aftermath of the disaster officers had been instructed not to make entries in pocket-books but to submit handwritten recollections for word-processing. The recollections had been sent to Peter Metcalf, a senior partner in Hammond Suddards, the solicitors representing SYP, who returned them to Chief Superintendent Donald Denton, with recommendations for 'review and alteration'."

Metcalf, when contacted by The Lawyer last week said he had not read the report (13 September).

He was unavailable for further comment today.

Link to article on The Lawyer



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