David Crompton, South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Suspended After Hillsborough Inquest Verdict

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 'had been left with no choice'.

27/04/2016 16:30 | Updated 27 April 2016

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton has been suspended over his response to Hillsborough.

The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said he "had been left with no choice" other than to suspend "with immediate effect" Crompton "following the run-up to and delivery of the Hillsborough verdicts".

The move comes after Hillsborough families called for the police chief's resignation after jurors found that the 96 football fans who died in the disaster 27 years ago were "unlawfully killed".

Dave Higgens/PA Wire
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton has been suspended in the wake of the Hillsborough inquest findings.

Crompton was already due to stand down in November after 31 years in the force, after South Yorkshire police's handling of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal was described as “inadequate”.

Controversy also surrounded his decision to strike a deal with the BBC allowing a live broadcast of a search of Sir Cliff Richard’s home in connection with an inquiry into alleged child abuse.

Crompton joined the South Yorkshire force from neighbouring West Yorkshire in 2012. 

He was involved in the response to the London bombings in 2005 and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2010.

Full statement from South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Billings:

"Following the result of the verdicts yesterday, the continuing criticism that has been directed at the chief constable and the eroding trust and confidence in South Yorkshire Police I have been left with no choice other than to suspend David Crompton from his duties as chief constable of South Yorkshire Police.

“I have reached this decision with a heavy heart following discussions with David Crompton both in the run up to, and following the delivery of the Hillsborough verdicts. My decision is based on the erosion of public trust and confidence referenced in statements and comments in the House of Commons this lunchtime, along with public calls for the chief constable’s resignation from a number of quarters including local MPs.

“The suspension is with immediate effect pending a legal process.

“I said yesterday that I want to work with the Force, the Home Secretary and national policing bodies to continue to develop the qualities and culture within the force that will rebuild trust and confidence.

“As a result of other retirements this can begin with the establishment of a new senior leadership team. Following the announcement last month by David Crompton, that he was intending to retire in November, I began the planning process for appointing a new chief constable. The new chief constable must provide strong and focussed leadership for South Yorkshire Police with an emphasis on building the trust and confidence of the public in their police force.

“All this means that in the coming months South Yorkshire Police will have a new leadership team who will be able to provide a fresh start and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

“I am also proposing today a new partnership between the force and the public, brokered by my office. This will require the new senior leadership team to engage more fully with the people of South Yorkshire in order to learn and improve.  This new partnership will also continue to support the work of the force in embedding the Code of Ethics."

Andy Burnham, the Labour MP widely credited with helping restart the
Hillsborough inquest, yesterday demanded police investigating the disaster be prosecuted for being paid public money to "tell lies".

The shadow home secretary accused South Yorkshire force of covering-up
officers’ failures in a bid to prevent the truth of how fans were killed coming to light.

Burnham added that decades of lies by police had caused “incalculable” damage to families who have fought for 27 years to discover how their
loved ones died and who was to blame.

“This inquest has today delivered justice, and I would say next must
come accountability,” the Leigh MP said.

“People have lied down the decades and those lies have cause terrible harm. It was stuff said in the aftermath of the biggest stadium disaster - Liverpool’s moment of greatest grief.

“The damage that those lies did was incalculable and that’s why I would say there has to be accountability and there have to be prosecutions.

“Individuals must be held to account for their actions, because nobody at this point has been held to account from the South Yorkshire Police, so part of justice is accountability and that is why I say prosecutions must follow this verdict."

The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed it will begin the process of considering whether criminal charges should be levied. Crompton was castigated in 2013 after accusing Hillsborough families of lying in their accounts of the disaster.

Lewis Whyld/PA Archive
David Crompton is decorated with The Queen's Police Medal by The Queen at Buckingham Palace in November 2010.

At the time, the police watchdog said Crompton’s comments had been “at best ill-judged and at worst offensive and upsetting”.

They were contained in an email to senior police colleagues, sent in 2012, which has been published under the Freedom on Information Act.

Crompton, who has apologised for the slur, wrote: “One thing is certain - the Hillsborough Campaign for Justice will be doing their version ... in fact their version of certain events has become ‘the truth’ even though it isn’t.

“I just have the feeling that the media ‘machine’ favours the families and not us, so we need to be a bit more innovative in our response to have a fighting chance otherwise we will just be roadkill.”

Hillsborough families accused the police and ambulance service of “deliberately” lying to divert blame away from the emergency services and put it on the victims.

The Hillsborough disaster unfolded during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989 as thousands of fans were crushed at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

Relatives of the victims said on Tuesday that police had used “smoke and mirrors” and told a “shocking series of lies to pervert the course of justice”. 

Yesterday's verdict ended the longest jury case in British legal history.

The inquest jury of six women and three men delivered their verdicts just after 11am.

The jury, sitting in Warrington, Cheshire, found police planning errors ‘caused or contributed’ to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the disaster.

Jurors gave their conclusions having answered a general questionnaire of 14 questions as well as a record of the time and cause of death for each of the Liverpool fans, 27 years and 12 days since the disaster on April 15, 1989.

These included questions about the police planning before the game, stadium safety, events on the day, the emergency services’ response to the disaster and whether the fans were unlawfully killed.

Dozens of relatives of the victims attended court every day that it sat, which exceeded 300 days.

Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Relatives of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' outside the Hillsborough inquest on Tuesday.

After family members heard the verdict, they left the court to applause from crowds outside.

The conclusions follow previous inquests in 1991, which recorded verdicts of accidental death.

That ruling was later quashed after it was claimed that authorities had manipulated the timing of events to deflect blame from them and on to fans.

No evidence of the emergency response after 3.15pm was heard at the original inquests.

The medical experts who gave evidence at the fresh inquests said the 3.15pm cut-off which had been imposed in the original inquests was arbitrary and wrong.

The cut-off was based on a misunderstanding, the court heard previously, that all of those who died were either dead or had suffered such severe brain injury by that time that it would inevitably prove to be fatal whatever the nature of the response.

Compton said on Tuesday that the force would “unequivocally accept the verdict of unlawful killing” and admitted that officers had got policing of the cup tie “catastrophically wrong”.

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