Hillsborough investigation: Files on 23 suspects passed to Crown Prosecution Service

Concluding last year, inquests found the victims were unlawfully killed and fans were not to blame

Hillsborough investigation

Image: IRN

Hillsborough investigators have passed files relating to 23 criminal suspects to prosecutors.

In 2012 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched an inquiry into an alleged police cover up of the tragedy which killed 96 men, women and children in 1989.

The fans died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest - held at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium - on 15 April 1989.

Concluding last year, inquests found the victims were unlawfully killed and fans were not to blame.

A statement has now been released on behalf of the IPCC and the Operation Resolve investigation, which was set up following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in 2012 in order to look into preparation for the match and events of the day.

The statement says 15 of the suspects are related to the probe into the causes of the disaster, while eight are related to the IPCC inquiry into the alleged police cover-up.

Both South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police - the two forces that originally investigated the disaster in 1989 – have been investigated, with more than 170 allegations of police misconduct still being examined.

Families of the victims have welcomed the handing over of the files and pledged to continue to scrutinise the process and any decisions.

Lawyer Elkan Abrahamson, who represents 20 of the Hillsborough families, said: "Our clients are relieved that files have finally gone to the CPS to consider criminal proceedings against 23 individuals and organisations".

She went on: "Given that the CPS have been working in tandem with the police and the IPCC for many years we believe decisions should now be taken without further delay.

"We will continue to scrutinise the process and any decisions."

Decisions will now be made as to whether there is sufficient material on which to make charges, based on the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Assistant Commissioner Robert Beckley, officer in overall command of Operation Resolve, said: "Our task has been to investigate whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable for their role either in the planning and preparation for the match or on the day of the game itself".

This has been the largest investigation into alleged police wrongdoing in British legal history, with over 35 million words submitted as evidence.