Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Hillsborough: The potential role of the National Crime Agency

On 22nd October 2012, in her statement to the House of Commons, the Home Secretary Teresa May set out the potential role of the National Crime Agency in relation to investigating the Hillsborough cover-up in these words:

Moving on to deal with further investigations, the Director of Public Prosecutions has initiated a review of the panel’s findings. His review will inform a decision as to whether there are grounds to pursue prosecution of any of the parties identified in the report. If the DPP decides that further investigation is necessary, I will ensure that this can be carried out swiftly and thoroughly. In the case of police officers, it is likely that the IPCC will pick up the investigative role. If the DPP finds that a broader investigation is necessary, we will appoint a senior experienced investigator—entirely independent and unconnected to these events—to operate an investigation team within the new National Crime Agency.

See House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 October 2012 (pt 0002).

The Home Secretary did not make it clear that the existence of the National Crime Agency is subject to Parliamentary process. In other words, the National Crime Agency does not currently exist.

The Crime and Courts Bill which establishes the National Crime Agency is not likely to become Law until Spring 2013. And, it is hoped, the National Crime Agency will be operational by Autumn 2013.

Investigation of individuals and agencies other than the Police looks likely to be a disappointingly distant prospect, even if one assumes that the Director of Prosecutions is competent and diligent in identifying those who may have committed criminal offences.

Given the failures of the Crown Prosecution Service in earlier phases of the Hillsborough cover-up I have serious doubts about how close to the truth the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service will seek to come.

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