Crime commissioner awaits decision over Hillsborough inquests funding

South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner faces a further wait to find out how much of his multi-million pound bill for the Hillsborough disaster inquests will be covered by the Government.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings

Dr Alan Billings met Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday to discuss the level of Special Grant funding his office would receive to help pay for legal costs.

The PCC’s office has already paid out in excess of £12m and could have paid out £20m by the time the inquests end next year.

Dr Billings says the cost of paying for legal representation for retired officers giving evidence at the inquests into the 1989 tragedy could “bankrupt” his county force.

Speaking about yesterday’s meeting, Dr Billings said: “I met with the Home Secretary and laid out our position in relation to the legal costs facing South Yorkshire Police around the Hillsborough inquest.

“She listened to our concerns and the position that we will be placed in if reimbursement under the Special Grant does not fully meet the costs of the claims we submit. We are now awaiting a decision, which we are expecting in the near future.”

The Home Secretary has already agreed in principle to provide Special Grant funding, but the PCC’s office has so far been unable to secure a firm commitment on how much will be made available.

It is hoped a decision will be made before the start of the ‘purdah’ period prior to a General Election, when restrictions on Government activity are in place.

Last June Mrs May warned then-South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright that any extra government money would be capped at the level of financial support provided to the Hillsborough families, whose costs are being met by the Home Office.