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ADDENDUM PRESS RELEASE: RE HILLSBOROUGH VERDICT

View profile for Paul Harris
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Our first press release can be found here

On behalf of Alan Foster:

Introduction

We of course accept the verdict of the Inquest of unlawful killing. However, this trial was not about how people tragically died on that day. We entirely disassociate ourselves with comments made by Jonathan Goldberg QC yesterday on 5 Live blaming the Hillsborough disaster on the fans. We wish to provide some additional information in respect of yesterday’s judgment which we hope will be helpful in understanding the outcome of the case:

  1. Much of the commentary has focussed on the fact that the case was discharged on a “technical defence” that the Taylor Inquiry in respect of which the statements (which were in fact recollections not yet in statement form) were amended for was not a “Course of public justice” and therefore the offences could not be committed regardless of what amendments were made.
  2. There has also been considerable commentary about the evidence concerning a solicitor’s obligations re duty of candour and how there may be a gap between the moral and legal obligation.
  3. What has not been highlighted is that the Judge made his ruling after just hearing the Prosecution case and nothing from the defendants. He ruled on the Prosecution Case i.e.; on the evidence that they sought to adduce in support of their case. He concluded in his full judgement that almost all of the amendments did not have a tendency to pervert the course of Justice (even if there had been a valid course of public justice to pervert). In other words, the amendments themselves did not distort or hide the true facts. 
  4. In fact, in the full ruling the Judge indicated that given Mr Fosters work was for Taylor and Taylor alone it was hard to see how he could have had an intent to pervert the course of justice. Albeit this was not a conclusion he was required to reach for the purposes of the ruling. 
  5. In 1989 Immediately following the tragedy Counsel (Mr William Woodward QC) advised that officers record recollections containing thoughts, feelings and observations. However, once their recollections had to be converted into formal statements for the Taylor Inquiry those parts that were inadmissible such as comment, opinion, hearsay and feelings were removed on legal advice.
  6. Every document had been meticulously retained and preserved. Every document was available. The prosecution had 2.1 million pages of material. Nothing was destroyed.
  7. In June 2018, the Taylor Inquiry was ruled not to be a course of public justice by Sir Peter Openshaw DL. The Taylor Inquiry issue was not new to the Crown Prosecution Service, and yet they persisted to prosecute the case focusing on the Taylor Inquiry [Para 81 of the Ruling]. 
  8. This was not “clever lawyers” finding “loopholes” as described by many on social media who have simply read the media reports and comments of politicians who have not read the ruling in full.
  9. This was a failure by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (formerly IPPC) to properly investigate, charge and prosecute criminal allegations. 
  10. Both families and defendants have been let down. Pressure had obviously been applied by partisan groups and politicians to encourage charges being bought. This generated significant political heat and very little legal light. 
  11. Had an independent assessment of the evidence taken place in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors (applying both limbs of the full code test: “the evidential” and “public interest” test) this case should not have been charged or continued.

 

Edward Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson Solicitors

 

Ben Smitten of Counsel

25 Bedford Row

ADDENDUM PRESS RELEASE: RE HILLSBOROUGH VERDICT

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