Twenty-two people have now been identified as suspects by two ongoing investigations into the Hillsborough disaster, including some who were not police officers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) revealed on Thursday night that 13 retired or serving police officers were now being regarded as suspects as part of its inquiry into the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy in Sheffield, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
It said yesterday that Operation Resolve - the wider criminal investigation into the disaster - has also identified 13 people “who fall within the suspect category”.
Six of these are retired police officers and seven worked for other, non-police organisations. Four are being treated as suspects by both investigations, so the total number of is now 22.
The IPCC confirmed that some of the retired or serving police officers being treated as suspects in its own inquiry are being interviewed on suspicion of manslaughter. Other suspected offences include perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office.
Deputy IPCC chairwoman Rachel Cerfontyne said in the watchdog’s latest update: “These are the first tranche of individuals we have deemed suspects. I do not expect them to be the last.”
The IPCC’s inquiry - the biggest it has ever undertaken - covers the actions of the police in the aftermath of the crush at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in April 1989, which left 96 Liverpool fans dead.
The investigation was announced after the commission reviewed the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which undercovered a huge amount of new evidence about what happened during and after the tragedy.
It is examining allegations including those surrounding amendments to police statements, the actions of the police officers after the disaster and the role of West Midlands Police, which investigated what happened at the time.
Operation Resolve, under the command of assistant commissioner Jon Stoddart, the retired chief constable of Durham Police, is a new, wider-ranging criminal investigation into the disaster.
New inquests into the 96 deaths will begin in Warrington on Monday. It was revealed yesterday that during the new inquests a 3D model of Hillsborough stadium will be used after being created by forensic imaging firm. Experts are also planning to “plot the movements” of the 96 fans and key decision-makers on a map of Hillsborough stadium.”
The IPCC also wants to find out which police officers blamed supposedly drunken Liverpool fans for the crush in comments to Whites News Agency, in Sheffield, whose copy led to The Sun’s infamous ‘The Truth’ headline. It said: “There is information within the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report to suggest Whites News Agency received information from senior police officers about the behaviour of Liverpool fans which led to negative stories being published in the press.
“As a first step, the Coroner has asked us to ascertain from Whites News Agency the names of the officers who made the comments, and this work has now commenced. This line of enquiry forms part of the independent investigation into whether police officers were responsible for providing misleading information to the media and politicians.”