May pledges action on Hillsborough spy claims

The police watchdog will pursue concerns that families of Hillsborough victims were spied on if evidence emerges, British Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

May said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had received no formal complaint or allegation but was aware of the concerns.

The IPCC is conducting its biggest ever investigation which focuses largely on police actions after the tragedy that left 96 football fans dead, MPs heard.

May added police forces could be ordered to release all documents connected to the disaster if investigators encounter problems.

Addressing the concerns over undercover surveillance of families, May told MPs: “No formal complaint or allegation has been made to the IPCC but it is aware of the concerns and it is considering how it should best address those concerns.

“Of course, it is reviewing the material in relation to Hillsborough so if they discover any evidence in their investigation that suggests surveillance may have taken place of the sort that’s been suggested then they will of course pursue that evidence.”

May confirmed that more than 1,600 people had responded to the IPCC’s witness appeal, including more than 250 people who have never given accounts before.

Around 400 witnesses have asked the watchdog to see their original statements while around 2,500 police pocket notebooks not previously made available to investigations are also being analysed, May added.

On the disclosure of documents from police forces, May said the Hillsborough Independent Panel examined around 450,000 documents and noted they did an “extremely good job”.

Meanwhile, May will look into a police force’s “disgusting slurs” that drunkenness played a part in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.

Labour frontbencher Andy Burnham expressed his outrage that South Yorkshire Police are “re-running slurs about alcohol” after reports that senior officers will argue that drunkenness contributed significantly to the tragedy when new inquests open next month.

May said she was prepared to look into the matter Burnham pointed out that the 1989 Taylor report and the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel found that alcohol did not play a major part in the disaster.


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