HL Deb 23 March 1998 vol 587 cc232-3WA
Lord Alton of Liverpool

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What account the Home Secretary and Lord Justice Stuart-Smith took, in deciding against a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy, of missing video tapes, changed statements by police officers, conflicting medical evidence and complaints of lack of impartiality in the original coroner's process and in the granting of immunity from prosecution to police officers upon taking early retirement. [HL1031]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

Lord Justice Stuart-Smith considered all the material evidence submitted to his scrutiny about the Hillsborough disaster. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary accepted his conclusion that there were no grounds for a fresh inquiry.

Chapter 2 of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's report deals with the video evidence. He found that there was no new video evidence and the only missing video tapes were two tapes stolen on the day of the disaster, which remain missing. They were not police tapes and the judge was satisfied that they would not have shown anything significant.

Lord Justice Stuart-Smith deals with the changed statements by police officers at Chapter 4 of his report. He concludes at paragraph 106 that allegations of irregularity and malpractice are not substantiated.

Lord Justice Stuart-Smith examined closely the evidence of Dr. Ed Walker and others relating to the treatment of victims of the disaster (Chapter 3 of the report). He found no grounds to suggest that the original inquests were flawed or that complaints of bias against the Coroner were justified.

No police officer was granted immunity from prosecution. The Director of Public Prosecutions considered a report following the disaster but concluded that no officer should face prosecution. On the direction of the Police Complaints Authority, disciplinary charges of neglect of duty were preferred against two officers. However, Chief Superintendent Duckenfield retired on ill-health grounds and, as he was no longer a serving officer, those proceedings could not be completed. The disciplinary charges against the second officer, Superintendent Murray, were dropped as the Police Complaints Authority considered that it would have been unfair to pursue what was, in essence, a joint charge against one officer only.