No more former officers are likely to face criminal prosecutions in connection to the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath.
The Crown Prosecution Service today confirmed it will not charge two ex-West Midlands Police officers, whose actions it was probing.
It was also revealed evidence linked to three former South Yorkshire Police officers would not be passed to prosecutors for consideration.
In a series of announcements this morning the CPS and police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (formerly the IPCC) revealed their latest findings linked to the investigation surrounding the 1989 tragedy and what followed.
The CPS had been reviewing a West Midlands Police evidence file linked to two suspects that was referred to it by the IOPC last year.
West Midlands Police was the force called in to review the conduct of South Yorkshire Police officers following the disaster.
The WMP officers faced allegations they “failed to investigate the cause of the Hillsborough disaster properly, either deliberately to assist South Yorkshire Police (SYP) or otherwise negligently, and/or that a misleading or incomplete file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1990”.
However, the CPS has ruled that, while cause for concern was found in the actions of both suspects, there was not enough evidence to “reach the high threshold required to prove a criminal offence”.
The CPS added:
There is evidence some aspects of the investigation were not carried out to a high standard but not none to show any deliberate plan or action by the suspects to hinder it.
There is difficulty in attributing responsibility for all of the failings to these suspects.
There is no evidence that, as alleged, one suspect intentionally provided an inappropriate selection of evidence to the DPP so that he did not have an accurate picture of the key evidence available.
Sue Hemming, Head of Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division at the CPS, today said: “I appreciate that my decision will be disappointing to you, but I would like to reassure you that in reaching this conclusion, we have spent a significant amount of time reviewing and considering the evidence that was submitted to us.
“As you know, the standard of evidence required for any criminal prosecution is high.”
The CPS is not considering any other files in relation to Hillsborough.
This morning, the IOPC also released details of its findings in relation to three ex-SYP officers who were considered to be suspects but whose cases had not yet been referred to the CPS.
It was alleged they sought to deliberately mislead the Lord Justice Taylor inquiry, the contributions hearing and the original inquest proceedings.
There was some indication that two of the three former officers may have committed a criminal offence but the CPS ruled it was not appropriate to refer their cases because they had already rejected the possibility of bringing criminal charges based on evidence reviewed in 2016. It added that no further evidence or legal matters had since been identified that could "realistically alter that view".
The body confirmed the cases were not being passed to the CPS - meaning the suspects will not be prosecuted.
Strategic lead for Hillsborough, Rachel Cerfontyne said: “At the core of my decision not to refer these SYP officers for formal charging decisions is the CPS’s clear view that charges would not be brought and the risk that a referral could cause disruption to the forthcoming Hillsborough trials.
“The evidence gathered by the investigation team has been wide ranging and thorough. I have reviewed it very carefully, as I know the CPS have done.
“This will now be used to determine if any officer involved in Hillsborough would have had a case to answer for misconduct if they were still serving. These findings, along with underlying evidence, will be set out in full in the Hillsborough final investigation report.”
The update comes nine months after charges were announced against five men following an extensive investigation sparked by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, published in 2012.
Those suspects, including former Merseyside Police Chief Constable Norman Bettison, were charged with offences relating to the disaster and its aftermath, which led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Charges were authorised against a sixth man, matchday commander David Duckenfield, but in order to prosecute him a legal order imposed after an attempted private prosecution has to be lifted.
Discussions over the lifting of that order - which if granted would see Mr Duckenfield charged with 95 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence - are currently going through the courts.
Laws in place at the time mean he could not be charged in connection with the 96th fan to die, Tony Bland, due to the length of time Mr Bland died after the tragedy.https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/hillsborough-no-more-criminal-charges-14408892