Fears that Hillsborough inquest legal fees could ‘bankrupt’ South Yorkshire Police

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings

The cost of legal fees for police officers due to give evidence at the Hillsborough Disaster inquests could ‘bankrupt’ South Yorkshire Police, it has been claimed.

The stark warning was issued by South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings ahead of a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May next week, where he plans to ask for cash to pay more legal bills.

Dr Billings said he has a legal obligation to support some police officers called to give evidence at the inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool FC fans who died in the 1989 disaster.

Seven senior police officers in positions of authority on the day of the disaster are being helped with their legal bills by The Commissioner, supported by Home Office grants.

But now Commissioner Billings is to ask the Government to support more with their legal costs.

Six months ago the bill for legal representation for seven key police figures from the day of the tragedy, plus Chief Constable Crompton - representing South Yorkshire Police today - was £6m.

“Some of the police require proper representation because out of it may come criminal prosecutions - it’s a very serious matter,” he said.

“There is a legal obligation to support some of those officers.

“My meeting is to say ‘if we do fund the officers there’s a considerable cost in legal fees - potentially it could bankrupt South Yorkshire Police - will you give us a special grant?’.”

He added: “I acknowledge that the families have suffered terrible loss as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy and I am committed to reaching satisfactory closure for the families.”