Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Monday, 22 October 2012 20:27 UK

May mulls emergency legislation to aid Hillsborough inquiry

The government is considering fast-track legislation to enable the police watchdog to require current and former officers to give evidence as it investigates the cover-up that followed the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

Opening a general debate on a recent report into the disaster on 22 October 2012, Mrs May told MPs that discussions with the opposition were on-going about whether the independent police complaints commission (IPCC) needed any further powers to carry out its duties.

The "thorough and wide-ranging" IPCC probe would focus on "potential criminality and police misconduct in respect of police officers, both serving and retired", Mrs May said.

At present the IPCC has no powers to compel former officers to give evidence, while serving officers can refuse if they are not suspected of misconduct themselves.

Labour MP and Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz said the IPCC must act swiftly to prevent victims' families facing "a long and drawn-out investigation process".

To this end, it was essential the commission had enough money to pursue its inquiries, he said.

The government "remained committed to ensuring it has all the resources and powers it needs to carry out its investigations thoroughly, transparently and exhaustively", Mrs May said.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper confirmed Labour's view that emergency legislation would be needed to give the IPCC extra powers.

In addition to the IPCC investigation, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) has pledged to launch an inquiry into possible crimes committed by police in the aftermath of the disaster.

If the DPP decided to prosecute any police officers involved, Ms Cooper questioned how this would be co-ordinated with the IPCC investigation.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve told MPs on Tuesday that he had ordered new inquests into the Hillsborough disaster based on evidence he has seen.

The original inquest claimed all 96 fans killed in the 1989 disaster were dead or beyond help by 3.15pm but a recent report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel found the lives of 41 of the victims could potentially have been saved if the response of the emergency services had been swifter.

The victims' families have always challenged the original inquest verdict of accidental death.


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