Britain’s police watchdog says it will launch the biggest ever independent inquiry into potential police wrongdoing after a damning report about the 1989 Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster.

England’s state prosecutors also said they would review all the material made public by the report published last month, and would examine whether charges can be brought over the disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said both former and current officers would be investigated.

After an exhaustive review of thousands of formerly secret documents, the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report exposed a police cover-up and cleared Liverpool supporters of blame for the tragedy.

It found that 164 police statements had been altered, 116 of them to remove or change “unfavourable” accounts about the force’s handling of the crisis.

The IPCC said a large number of serving and former officers would be investigated over what happened on the day of the tragedy, and during the alleged cover-up afterwards.

“This will be the largest independent inquiry that has been launched into the actions of the police in the United Kingdom,” IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass told reporters.

Meanwhile Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “I have concluded that the CPS should consider all the material now available in relation to the tragic events on April 15, 1989, including the material made available by the Independent Panel.

“The purpose of this exercise is to identify what the focus of any further criminal investigation should be in order for the CPS to determine whether there is now sufficient evidence to charge any individual or corporate body with any criminal offence.

“All potential offences that may have been committed and all potential defendants will be considered.”

He said he had informed the victims’ families through the Bishop of Liverpool, who headed the seven-member panel.

“The CPS intends to keep them fully informed of developments and to take such views as they express into account.”

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