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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hillsborough survivor welcomes new probes

NEWS that police wrong-doing at Hillsborough will be the subject of two major investigations has been welcomed by a survivor of the tragedy.

Last week, 56-year-old Kelvin “Kelly” Davies (pictured right), who works as a machine operator at the Dobson & Crowther factory in Llangollen, gave his harrowing account to llanblogger of how he narrowly survived the human crush at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium, which claimed the lives of 96 fans in April, 1989.  

He told of how he watched a young boy die beside him but was himself plucked to safety by a friend and carried away from the body-strewn terraces by fellow Liverpool fans on an advertising hoarding torn from the side of the pitch.

It has now been announced that two separate probes are to be carried out into the disaster by  the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is the police watchdog body, and the Director of Public prosecutions.

They will both be looking at whether crimes were committed by the police.

The IPCC said both serving and former officers would be investigated over the deaths of the fans and they will consider if individuals or corporate bodies should be charged.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel last month revealed 164 police statements were altered - 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Sheffield stadium.

It said police and emergency services had made "strenuous attempts" to deflect the blame for the disaster on to fans.

The panel also found that 41 of the 96 who died had the "potential to survive" and calls have been made for fresh inquests.

Kelly Davies, who lives in Rhosymedre, said: “I welcome both these investigations.

“The report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel last month opened up a can of worms and these new inquiries which have been announced are unprecedented in British legal history.

“Now I want to see this taken one step further and the inquests into the disaster re-opened.

“This time there should be verdicts of corporate manslaughter rather than accidental death.”

Mr Davies, who stills sees images of the boy who died beside him in the crush of the terraces, added: “It is wrong that it has taken 23 years to get where we are today with this.

“For those of us who were there that day this has been hanging over our heads all that time.

“At the time The Sun newspaper said awful things about how Liverpool fans behaved and mud sticks.

“For years and years it has been as though we were to blame for the deaths of our 96 fans.”

Deputy chair of the IPCC Deborah Glass said "without a shadow of a doubt" it would be the biggest ever investigation carried out into police behaviour in the UK.

Both South Yorkshire Police, who dealt with the tragedy, and West Midlands Police, who investigated how South Yorkshire handled the disaster, will come under scrutiny.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC,  said in a statement: “Having read and considered the report published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel on 12 September 2012 and liaised with the Home Office and Independent Police Complaints Commission, I have concluded that the Crown Prosecution Service should consider all the material now available in relation to the tragic events on 15 April 1989, including the material made available by the Independent Panel.

“The purpose of this exercise is to identify what the focus of any further criminal investigation should be in order for the CPS to determine whether there is now sufficient evidence to charge any individual or corporate body with any criminal offence. All potential offences that may have been committed and all potential defendants will be considered.

“In carrying out this exercise, the CPS will work closely with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“Through the Right Reverend James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, I have today communicated my decision to the bereaved families and their representatives and indicated that, in conjunction the IPCC, the CPS intends to keep them fully informed of developments and to take such views as they express into account.”

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