These questions were raised in a comment on my blog on 28th April about the former Chief Constable of South Yorkshire David Crompton.
Q.2 I agree that getting individuals and especially organisations to face up to their responsibilities rather than routinely denying them is a problem not least of all because of the financial implications of admissions and the view insurers take on the making of any admissions. However I think we do need to look at the position of public authorities at least to see if a way can be found to try to tackle the culture of what has been described as “institutional denial”. Public authorities exist in order to serve the public. They owe a duty of openness and transparency to the public. If they always react defensively, if they refuse to admit when they get things wrong it is hard to see how we can ever be confident that lessons really have been learned. It may be that as part of this exercise we would have to consider whether for example there should be a financial cap on the liability in damages of such organisations as a way of trying to encourage greater openness. It is one thing to recognise a problem but I accept the answers are not necessarily easy to identify.
Q.4 In order to be granted Interested Person status at an Inquest a party has to establish that they have a sufficient interest in the outcome of the proceedings for this to justified. Since there was no Police and Crime Commissioner [PCC] in 1989 it would be hard to see how such a claim could be made out. No criticism of the PCC was ever likely to be made.
Q.5 I can’t really answer this question as I am not very familiar with the relationship between PCCs and Chief Constables. You would like to think that since the PCC was, as a I understand it, largely responsible for funding the representation of the Chief Constable [CC] at the Inquests that he might have said to the CC that he assumed the CC would be taking a very limited part in proceedings in light of the full apology made in 2012. Whether there was any such conversation I simply do not know.
Q.6 As David Conn wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday, Elkan Abrahamson, the solicitor for 22 families informed the Home Office on 16th March this year that the families would be calling for the Chief Constable to be sacked after the Inquests because of the part that counsel instructed by him had played in trying to blame the fans. His decision to stand down later this year was announced a week later. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I expect the news of what we were planning reached him via the Home office pretty quickly. In any event his fate was sealed by (a.) making another apology immediately after the verdicts despite taking the part he had which made the apology appear entirely insincere and (b.) making a further announcement trying to justify the stance he had taken at the Inquests. To use the vernacular, Crompton was “toast” by then. The PCC may have acted with a heavy heart but in reality Crompton had by then sealed his own fate.
I hope this helps