Chapter 7: Civil litigation

Conclusion: what is added to public understanding

  • The decision by SYP to settle certain categories of compensation claims from the injured and bereaved in November 1989 was sudden and taken for legal and tactical reasons.  It was made deliberately and without any admission of liability so as not to prejudice the position of any police officers subsequently under criminal investigation.
  • Following legal action by SYP, other organisations agreed to contribute to the payment of compensation to the injured and bereaved as follows: 
    • Sheffield Wednesday Football Club - 1.5 million
    • The Club's engineers Eastwood & Partners - 1.5 million
    • Sheffield City Council - 1 million
  • It was estimated that total compensation to the injured and bereaved might reach 12 million, suggesting that SYP would have accepted two-thirds of the liability and the other organisations one-third. Ultimately the cost of compensation rose to 19.8 million. SYP's public liability insurance cover was limited to 8.5 million. The remainder of the total was paid from the Police Authority's financial reserves and through special payments from the Home Office.
  • Compensation claims from SYP officers caused considerable tension within the Force. Senior officers viewed the claims with 'great concern' and junior officers felt 'immense pressure' from the Force to withdraw them. SYP accepted internally that they had 'no defence' in relation to a category of claims in late 1992, but did not agree to make payments until mid-1995. This was a strategic decision to deter 'copy-cat' claims. Those claims not settled were successfully defended in court. 1.5 million was ultimately paid out by SYP to 16 officers. The costs were met from the Force's employers' insurance cover.