ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: International News
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Former Hammonds Partner Linked to Alteration of Police Statements on Hillsborough Disaster
Squire Sanders legacy U.K. firm Hammond Suddards has been named in an independent report into the Hillsborough football disaster as having recommended the "review and alteration" of handwritten accounts by police officers in the wake of the tragedy.
The report, compiled by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, describes how statements made by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers underwent an "unprecedented process of review and alteration" before their submission to the official inquiry into the 1989 tragedy, which resulted in 96 deaths.
The report identifies Hammond Suddards partner Peter Metcalf as having worked with a small team of officers managed by SYP Chief Superintendent Donald Denton.
The report states: "In the immediate aftermath of the disaster officers had been instructed not to make entries in pocket-books but to submit handwritten recollections for word-processing. The recollections had been sent to Peter Metcalf, a senior partner in Hammond Suddards, the solicitors representing SYP, who returned them to Chief Superintendent Donald Denton, with recommendations for 'review and alteration.'"
Concerns were subsequently raised by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith -- who was appointed to lead a review of new evidence in 1997 -- about the "derivation and operation of the process of review and alteration."
The report also states: "In their 1989 statements some SYP officers referred to crushing in the outer concourse area at the 1988 FA Cup Semi-Final. They were asked by the SYP solicitors, Hammond Suddards, to reconsider and qualify their statements."
The panel that compiled the report was tasked with scrutinizing more than 450,000 pages of documents relating to the tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club's ground in 1989.
Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday apologized for the failures that led to the disaster and the attempts of the authorities to place the blame on the supporters at the ground.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: "With the weight of the new evidence in the report it's right for me today as Prime Minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96. On behalf of the government, and indeed of our country, I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long."
Hammond Suddards merged with Edge Ellison in 2000 to become the firm known as Hammonds, before subsequently combining with U.S. firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey in 2011. Until this year the firm was known as Squire Sanders Hammonds in the U.K., before a global rebrand at the start of the year as Squire Sanders.
Squire Sanders declined to comment.