After Hillsborough, can we now trust the police?

By Kevin Donoghue, Principal Solicitor, Donoghue Solicitors

As a Liverpool Solicitor, lifelong Liverpool FC fan and a Kop season ticket holder, I was pleased to see that finally, after 23 years of fighting, the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster received the truth.

They now know, thanks to the report of the Bishop of Liverpool’s panel, that South Yorkshire Police acted disgracefully both on the day of the disaster, and in the aftermath.

In trying to shift the blame to the innocent victims, the Police:

  • deliberately misinformed the media, providing briefings to a local press agency which led to The Sun’s infamous ‘The Truth’ headline and the scandalous, unfounded allegations that fans stole from the victims, ‘urinated on brave cops’ and ‘beat up PC giving kiss of life’ (see Summary, points 144-148)
  • fabricated a ‘defence’ to deflect blame in the subsequent enquiries to ‘drunken ticketless individuals’ (see Summary, point 149).
  • amended 164 junior police officers’ statements, with 116 being specifically altered to ‘remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP’ (see Summary, point 132.). These comments included removal to references regarding lack of leadership (Chapter 11 point 2.11.57), lack of radios (2.11.64) and organisation (2.11.65).
  • the panel also state that even though alcohol consumption was ‘unremarkable’, ‘A document disclosed to the Panel has revealed that an attempt was made to impugn the reputations of the deceased by carrying out Police National Computer checks on those with a non-zero alcohol level.’ (see Summary, point 70).

In a BBC interview, the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police has apologised and said that South Yorkshire Police is now a ‘very different place’.

His words may be comforting to some, but there is no doubt that problems within the police remain. As a specialist solicitor who pursues compensation claims against the police on behalf of victims of police wrongdoing, I am in constant contact with those who have been poorly treated by many different police forces.

Unfortunately, fabrication remains a recurring theme.

For example, in a case I am currently pursuing, my client was charged with assaulting a Special Constable. The police officer’s statement, made only half an hour after the alleged ‘assault’, described how my client pushed him, causing the policeman’s helmet to come off, then head-butted him to the forehead with such force that it caused him a pain in his neck and on his head. As a result, the Special Constable sprayed CS gas into my client’s eyes.

He was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer solely on the basis of the statement written by the Special Constable, even though there were many other police officers at the scene.

What the officer didn’t know was that CCTV footage was found showing that no such assault occurred.

Rather than come clean and apologise, the Special Constable made matters worse during the internal complaint interview by suggesting that in fact the assault occurred off camera and that there might have been a clash of heads rather than a head-butt.

Amazingly, even though he made the statement when events were very fresh in his mind, it was stated in the complaint report that he made it without CCTV footage which would have assisted his recall. The police are trained, professional witnesses. It beggars belief to think that an officer would need the benefit of CCTV footage before making a statement only 30 minutes after such a traumatic event as allegedly being head-butted.

Although the Special Constable maintained his statement was accurate, the Crown Prosecution Service rightly decided not to prosecute, and now that I have seen the footage, I can see why. There was no assault; on camera, or off. The Special Constable’s helmet remained in place (until he removed it himself) so that it would have been impossible for my client to head-butt him to the forehead.

We can only speculate as to the officer’s motives for wrongly stating that he was assaulted, and then changing his story only in the face of damning CCTV evidence. It certainly appears that he knew full well that my client was innocent both at the time of arrest and during the subsequent prosecution. However, he was willing to allow the prosecution to continue and potentially see my client convicted at court and sent to jail.

I am now pursuing a compensation claim against the police on behalf of my client on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. He will recover significant compensation, which has to be paid for out of the public purse. However, he has had to endure the stress of the arrest, charge and subsequent investigation, and battle to clear his name. He is rightly aggrieved at the police’s conduct, which will go unpunished save for an award of compensation.

As in the Hillsborough case, if the police officer involved acted with integrity, all this could have been avoided.


Kevin Donoghue is Principal Solicitor at Donoghue Solicitors.




Donoghue Solicitors marathon men


Kevin Donoghue and Daniel Fitzsimmons of Donoghue Solicitors

Kevin Donoghue and Daniel Fitzsimmons are legal eagles by day, and marathon men by night!

Read our latest press release to find out more about their latest efforts to raise money for charity by successfully completing the Liverpool marathon.

Kevin Donoghue and Daniel Fitzsimmons (pictured) of Donoghue Solicitors completed the Liverpool Marathon on 9 October 2011, raising nearly £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The hard-working duo both work at leading Merseyside law firm Donoghue Solicitors. Six months ago they decided that they were going to run the Liverpool marathon for charity and set in place a strict training plan which ensured they were fully prepared.

As Kevin Donoghue (on the right in the picture) explains, ‘there were some sacrifices. We ran most days and would even go running on Friday night rather than staying home watching t.v. or going to the pub!’

Kevin and Dan completed the 26.2 mile marathon around Liverpool and Wirral in 3 hours 56 minutes and 4 hours 54 minutes respectively. Daniel comments that, ‘it was my first marathon. Although I lost a toe-nail and have badly blistered feet, I am glad I did it.’

They are especially proud of the fact that they have been able to raise nearly £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity providing nursing and other practical support to those affected by the disease.

As Kevin Donoghue points out, ‘we all know someone who has been affected by cancer. Reminding ourselves of our fundraising goals gave us both that extra push to finish the race.’

Kevin and Daniel are still accepting sponsorship for the marathon via the website

Donoghue Solicitors specialise in accident claims and actions against the police. They can be contacted on 08000 124 246 or via their website

Donation to Alder Hey Hospital by Donoghue Solicitors

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor


I was recently approached by Les Irving, a Bootle, Merseyside resident.

He told me that he was running the London marathon to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis unit at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, where his daughter Phoebe receives treatment.

As physical therapy is so important, the patients are encouraged to exercise. As we all know though, that can often feel like a chore.

Read about how we got round this problem below:


Donoghue Solicitors donate Xbox Kinect to Alder Hey Cystic Fibrosis Unit

Leading Merseyside law firm, Donoghue Solicitors, have donated an Xbox 360 with Kinect to help young patients in Alder Hey’s Cystic Fibrosis Unit.

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor with Les Irving

Kevin Donoghue with Les Irving

The generous donation was made following a discussion between Solicitor and Principal of the law firm, Kevin Donoghue, and Bootle resident Les Irving.

Les, 45, recently ran the London Marathon to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Unit where his daughter Phoebe, 11, receives regular treatment.

Mr. Donoghue explains, “cystic fibrosis is a chronic lung disease where thick, sticky mucous builds up in the lungs and digestive tract. Exercise is very important for people with the disease as it helps loosen mucous in the lungs and improves health generally. Les explained to me that sometimes it can be hard to motivate Phoebe and her fellow sufferers in the Unit to take regular exercise, and that he wanted to do something to help make it fun.”

As often happens, technology came to the rescue.

Kevin Donoghue continues, “the Xbox Kinect is a sensor device which attaches to the Xbox 360 video game console. Similar to a webcam, it enables users to control and interact with video games without the need to touch a game controller. Instead, the game player uses full body movement and speech. As games can be involving and exciting, the player does not feel like they are working out, so it’s perfect for reluctant exercisers.”

Les explains, “I discussed the idea with Alder Hey. They liked it but said that they couldn’t afford to pay for such an expensive piece of equipment. I mentioned this to Kevin Donoghue, who readily agreed to donate a brand new Xbox 360 and Kinect if I completed the London Marathon. Thankfully, I did!”

Les is still accepting sponsorship for the marathon via the website Kevin Donoghue, whose firm specialises in accident claims and actions against the police, can be contacted on 0151 924 6690 or at



Website development

Donoghue Solicitors is proud to give you a pre-launch preview of our new website today.

We’ve been fortunate to have the assistance of Tecmark, the website designers, to ensure that everything’s going to be just right for launch on Monday 31 January 2011.

In designing the website we have focussed on our clients’ experience. This has meant stripping back alot of the unnecessary add-ins (such as flash, which doesn’t work on iphones or ipads) and providing an easy to navigate site that will work just as well on desktop pcs, laptops or mobile browsers.

Please post any comments/ feedback/ recommendations here, and be sure to come back regularly to see what we’re up to.