HILLSBOROUGH campaigners today expressed dismay that South Yorkshire Police’s chief constable has escaped without punishment for accusing them of lying.
Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said David Crompton’s email comments had “serious implications for public confidence”.
But it said it was taking no action and passed the case back to South Yorkshire’s police commissioner Shaun Wright, who in turn refused to take any further action.
Mr Crompton stated in an email four days before the publication of the independent panel’s report into the disaster in September that the “Hillsborough Campaign for Justice's . . . version of certain events had become the truth even though it isn't”.
Since the email came to light last week, he has apologised.
Yesterday, the force attempted to draw a line under the affair insisting “it continues to give its full support to the ongoing inquiries” into the Hillsborough disaster.
Margaret Aspinall, chair of Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “Nothing surprises us but it has given us a warning of how they feel.
“There should be some sort of reprimand for him but he is not even getting a slap on the wrist.” Mr Wright, who referred the email to the IPCC, said: “I note the comments of the IPCC, including that the email has ‘serious implications for public confidence’ but that does not amount to a conduct issue and therefore does not require a formal referral.
“As previously stated, I have raised my concerns and disappointment with the chief constable but I have now accepted the apology he has issued and I believe I have taken all appropriate action at this stage to deal with the matter.”
In the email, released last week under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Crompton talks of preparing what “amounts to the case for the defence” because “one thing is certain – the Hillsborough Campaign for Justice will be doing their version”. IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said the email caused him “concern”.
“It referred to preparing what ‘amounts to the case for the defence’ and stated that the ‘Hillsborough Campaign for Justice's…version of certain events had become the truth even though it isn't’.
“I consider that this is at best ill judged and at worst offensive and upsetting. I have written to Chief Constable Crompton to express these views.”
“Families and individuals affected by the Hillsborough tragedy, along with the wider public, will rightly be concerned over the apparent attitude displayed by this communication within the highest ranks of the force which is currently under investigation in relation to the actions of its officers and staff around the disaster.”
The IPCC said that the matter was sent to the watchdog on the grounds of “transparency”.
Mr Long added: “These regrettable actions are now a matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner of South Yorkshire.