Labour MP Bill Esterson urges people who gave statements to West

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has been asked to help with an appeal for Hillsborough survivors to come forward and check the statements which they gave to West Midlands Police.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has asked the MP to help find people who gave statements to the investigation carried out by West Midlands Police after the 1989 disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died. 

This follows the growing number of police statements which were altered and is part of the work of the IPCC which is trying to make sure that all the evidence is finally made available as part of its enquiry into the role of South Yorkshire Police on the day of the match and in the cover up which followed. 

The IPCC is running one of three investigations into Hillsborough. The others are the enquiry into the cause of the deaths which may lead to criminal action being taken and the fresh coroner inquests which are being held following the overturning of the original inquests which followed the publication of the Independent Panel Enquiry last year.

The IPCC has written: "The IPCC knows that a large number of people gave accounts to West Midlands Police as part of the original investigation into the Hillsborough disaster. As part of our ongoing investigation into how West Midlands Police conducted its investigation, the IPCC wants to hear from you if you did give an account.

"At this stage, we are only asking for brief information from you. We will assess your response and determine what further information we might need from you. We will keep you informed about our plans. Should our investigators wish to take full witness accounts from you we will consult with you about how you would wish to do this and what assistance you may require.

"While our focus in the short term is on those who did give statements to West Midlands Police, we appreciate there are many people who did not give accounts previously.

"The information you provide will be used to assist our ongoing investigation into how West Midlands Police conducted its inquiry into the disaster. We are looking for accounts of individuals' experiences of this process to ensure our investigation has as much evidence as possible.

"The IPCC is working alongside Operation Resolve, which is the investigation led by Jon Stoddart examining the causes of the deaths of the 96 supporters, and the coroner’s team. As a result it may be that your account contains evidence which might be relevant to that investigation and the inquest. As such we would want to share your account with Operation Resolve and/or the coroner’s team if we believe it relevant to their enquiries.”

Bill Esterson said: "The IPCC has asked me to help with the appeal for survivors and other witnesses to come forward. 

"The fact that so many police statements were altered shows that there were huge problems with the way the West Midlands Police inquiry was carried out. Significant evidence was either doctored or removed altogether contributing to the lie that was told about how the 96 died and who was responsible. 

"The victims were blamed for their own deaths along with other Liverpool fans and it is vital that anyone who spoke to West Midlands Police as part of their inquiry comes forward to at least let the IPCC know. At this stage, the IPCC wants to establish who spoke to the police and whether the West Midlands inquiry recorded at the very least the names of everyone they interviewed. 

"The West Midlands Police records have already been shown to have been changed. The IPCC is right to want to know just how far the doctoring of statements went and just how much evidence they need to go through to try to ensure they have full records of what was said by witnesses, whether police officers or fans."

Bill is urging anyone who gave a statement to West Midlands Police to come forward. 

Bill said: "I would encourage anyone who gave a statement to West Midlands Police at the time to seriously consider telling the IPCC so that the accuracy of those statements can be reviewed. 

"It will be difficult for many people for completely understandable reasons to do this and the IPCC recognises that it will not be easy to remember exactly what witnesses said or to remember everything that happened. 

"The fact that the IPCC is having to make this request is yet another reminder of the injustice that was done for so many years to those who died, to their families and friends and to those who were injured. But it is vital that all the facts emerge from the three enquiries so that the injustice does not continue for any longer than is absolutely necessary."