Express & Star

West Midlands Police 'unable' to disclose payouts over Hillsborough cover-up

West Midlands Police has not disclosed how much it is to pay out to more than 600 people affected by the cover-up following the Hillsborough disaster.

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Liverpool fans at Hillsborough try to escape severe overcrowding

It emerged in June that the force, along with South Yorkshire Police, had agreed a settlement after a civil claim.

But the two forces have not revealed how much they will pay out to 601 people, following a request by the Express & Star under the Freedom of Information Act.

They said as the "process is ongoing" they were "unable to provide this information".

Nobody has ever being convicted following the tragedy at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. It comes after Andrew Devine became the 97th victim following his death last week. He suffered life-changing injuries in the crush and a coroner has concluded that, like the other 96 victims, he was unlawfully killed.

The West Midlands and South Yorkshire forces provided almost identical statements after being approached by the Express & Star.

The South Yorkshire force said it had consulted its lawyers before responding.

The West Midlands Police statement said: "The scheme was set up in April 2021 to enable the process of assessing the claims to begin. That process is ongoing and therefore the force would in any event be unable to provide this information."

South Yorkshire Police added it "was not in receipt of a total figure for damages paid out".

Among those who died at Hillsborough were the daughters of former Kingswinford businessman Trevor Hicks, Sarah, 19, and Vicki, 15. He has been a vocal campaigner for justice and became chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group. HGV driver David Birtle, aged 22, who lived in Cannock and was born in West Bromwich, also died.

Lawyers representing the families said the agreement "will put an end to any fresh attempts to rewrite the record and wrongly claim that there was no cover-up".

When the settlements were revealed, West Midlands Police said it “deeply regretted” the “harm and distress” caused to the Hillsborough families.

The force was brought in to investigate the actions of South Yorkshire officers following the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

It was previously alleged West Midlands Police knew witness statements had been amended by South Yorkshire officers and it did not properly investigate if and how this had been done.

West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said in June: “We deeply regret the harm and distress caused to those affected by the tragedy and although I know it cannot make up for their suffering, working with South Yorkshire Police, we have agreed a scheme to compensate those affected.”

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