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Liverpool University has postponed its plans to award an honorary doctorate to Sir Bernard Hogan Howe.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Patrick Hackett, said: “Given the ongoing inquests and investigations relating to the Hillsborough disaster, the university and the commissioner have decided to postpone the degree ceremony pending the outcome of the investigations.

“We are deeply sorry if we have inadvertently caused any distress to the Hillsborough families. All of us feel great sensitivity to the families at this difficult time.”

You remember Hogan Howe, don’t you? Inspector in the South Yorkshire police in 1989 who, on the night of the disaster, was in charge of the Hillsborough boys club. The club described as being in ‘utter chaos’ and ‘a shambles’ by Stephen Lowe, then the archdeacon of Sheffield, who was in charge of priests ministering to families.

So shambolic, in fact, that Hogan-Howe and his officers read out the name of Adam Spearritt, 14, from Halton Village as part of a list of those who were safe and well. He’d been crushed to death, dying after falling unconscious in his dad’s arms.

Adam’s family have put in an official complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) about Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. It joins other complaints, including the fact that he appears never to have made a statement after Hillsborough to any of the official investigations into the disaster, despite having said that he did. The IPCC is investigating that, too.

Hillsborough families have always believed that South Yorkshire police mounted a cover-up, to mask their own mistakes, and to blame ‘drunken and reckless fans’ for the deaths – of which, we know, there was no evidence. Never will be.

Sir Bernard, for his part, has always maintained that he was ready for interview, but had yet to be asked. “At the time I was away at university. On that day I went down to help on the day that the disaster unfolded. I’m not sure I ever had a very clear view of what happened,” he says.

We are: South Yorkshire Police orchestrated a cover-up, falsified documents and blamed innocent supporters in the aftermath. South Yorkshire Police altered more than 164 statements and tried to blame fans. At least 41 fans could have been saved, the report concluded, clearing supporters of any wrongdoing or blame for the disaster. And yet -still – Sir Bernard isn’t sure of what happened that day.

While the inquest is not yet concluded into this tragedy, we think it’s an astonishing lapse of judgement to award this man anything in this city.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Patrick Hackett, said: “Given the ongoing inquests and investigations relating to the Hillsborough disaster, the university and the commissioner have decided to postpone the degree ceremony pending the outcome of the investigations.

“We are deeply sorry if we have inadvertently caused any distress to the Hillsborough families. All of us feel great sensitivity to the families at this difficult time.”

  • MikeHomfray

    As an Inspector he would have had very little influence, and in any case he was actually away from active service and simply turned up to help. It is quite ridiculous that any individual who happened to work for them can be viewed as responsible. Get those who made the decisions. The police at lower ranks are obliged to obey those decisions. bernard was an excellent ACC on Merseyside and is one of the fairest people I have come across in the police

  • Graham Holland

    To award Hogan-Howe an honorary doctorate while the new inquests are taking place and while he’s under investigation by the IPCC shows a shocking lack of sensitivity and awareness on behalf of the University of Liverpool.