The Yorkshire Post reported a month ago that redacted sections of the Independent Police Complaints Commission document revealed links between the actions of South Yorkshire Police during the miners’ strike and the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster.
Revelations that the same senior officers and solicitor were involved both in the aftermath of Orgreave and of Britain’s worst sporting disaster have strengthened calls for a new inquiry into the 1984 clashes between miners and the police.
In its latest update into its Hillsborough investigation, published today, the IPCC said it redacted last year’s Orgreave report “as a result of legal issues, including some relating to the Hillsborough inquests”.
It added: “An unredacted version of our report was shared with the coroner to the Hillsborough inquests prior to publication. Now that the inquests have concluded we are considering whether the legal issues that prompted the report being redacted still remain.
“One key consideration is that the criminal investigations remain ongoing and we must carefully consider whether we can publish an unredacted version of the report at this stage without compromising the integrity of either investigation.”
The IPCC statement added that twenty-two families of Hillsborough disaster victims have complained to the watchdog about suspended South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton.
IPCC officials are now liaising with the office of South Yorkshire police commissioner Alan Billings as to how the matter should be investigated.
Mr Crompton was suspended by Dr Billings in April following criticism of the force’s approach to the two-year inquest proceedings and its reaction to the jury’s verdicts, which found the 96 Liverpool supporters who died were unlawfully killed.
The IPCC, which is investigating police actions in the aftermath of the disaster alongside a parallel criminal investigation into what happened on the day of the 1989 semi-final, also confirmed they are investigating allegations made by former South Yorkshire Police press officer Hayley Court.
It will examine her claim ‘she was directed to draw journalists’ attentions to negative remarks made about Liverpool fans and other organisations during inquests proceedings, as a way of deflecting blame from South Yorkshire Police’.
In relation to its wider investigation that is looking at claims of an alleged cover-up of the reasons behind the disaster, the IPCC said it still hopes to be in a position to present the Crown Prosecution Service with full files of evidence by the turn of the year to enable decisions to be made on whether anyone will face criminal charges.
The watchdog has previously said strands of its operation include investigating alleged amendments to police accounts and allegations that misleading information was passed to the media, MPs and Parliament after the disaster to ‘deflect blame’ from the police on to the supporters.
Rachel Cerfontyne, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: “Our focus is now entirely on completing our investigations and disclosing evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure they have everything they need to make charging decisions. The disclosure process we are undertaking is complex and extensive, and probably one of the biggest exercises of its kind.
“It is absolutely vital that this is completed properly and thoroughly – history shows that potential prosecutions can fail if it isn’t done correctly. Both investigations are committing significant time and resources to the task.”