Hillsborough police officer will not face charges over horse burn claims

A police officer alleged to have falsely claimed his horse was burnt by fans at Hillsborough will not face charges, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

Police watchdog the IPCC had submitted files of evidence on the mounted officer and a civilian farrier to the CPS after an investigation into allegations they had both falsified evidence.

But the CPS said there was not enough evidence to prosecute the former South Yorkshire Police constable and charging the farrier was not in the public interest.

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Families of the 96 victims of the disaster were informed of the decision this week.

The mounted officer had been seen on camera lashing out towards fans before the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

He later claimed the Liverpool supporters had been burning his horse with cigarettes.

The farrier, who was a friend of the officer, also described seeing serious injuries to the horse.

It was alleged the accounts were false and given to protect the officer from disciplinary action.

A CPS spokesman said: "It has been concluded that in relation to the police officer, the evidential threshold has not been met and there is not a realistic prospect of conviction.

"The evidential threshold for a charge of perverting the course of justice was met in the case of the civilian farrier.

"In accordance with the two-stage test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the public interest in pursuing the case was then considered.

"It was concluded that it is not in the public interest to prosecute this individual and so no charge was authorised."

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The IPCC had investigated the two individuals after a complaint was received from a group of Liverpool fans in May 2015.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "Following a very thorough and detailed investigation by our dedicated Hillsborough team, we referred a significant body of evidence to the CPS for their consideration in July 2017.

"The CPS has decided not to charge either subject following our investigation.

"It was vitally important that allegations of such a serious nature were investigated robustly.

"Following the conclusion of all criminal proceedings relating to the Hillsborough disaster, we will consider whether any former police officers, including all of those referred to the CPS for charging decisions, would have had cases to answer for misconduct if they were still serving.

"The evidence supporting these findings will be set out in a final investigation report."

Six men, including match commander David Duckenfield, are already facing prosecution for alleged offences related to the 1989 disaster and its aftermath.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989, as their FA Cup semi-final cup-tie began against Nottingham Forest.

An inquest jury last year ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police blunders.