KEIGHLEY businessman Trevor Hicks, whose two teenage daughters were killed in the Hillsborough football disaster, has given a cautious welcome to a Government pledge to make senior police officers accountable after they have retired.
The commitment to introduce a so-called "Hillsborough law," which would allow officers to face disciplinary proceedings in the "most serious misconduct cases" years after they have left the force, came during the second reading in the House of Lords of the Policing and Crime Bill.
A Government spokesman said it could not be right that a police officer who knew they were to face a serious complaint could avoid being held to account by resigning or retiring.
Mr Hicks, whose daughters Sarah, 19, and Vicki, 15, died in the 1989 Leppings Lane crush, said he welcomed the proposal, and hoped it would come to fruition.
But he added: "It is a firm commitment, but only a commitment so there is still an element of doubt about it. We had a commitment from Jack Straw to do this when he was Home Secretary, but it never happened."
And Mr Hicks said he felt uncomfortable with a cut-off point of 12 months after an officer left the police for disciplinary action, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
He added: "Often these things do not come to light until much later. How exceptional do the circumstances have to be? I have a bit of a concern it could be a fudge."
He said the problem was mainly with senior officers, not rank and file.
He said Prime Minister Theresa May had seen the merits of the proposal when she was Home Secretary.
"The new Home Secretary is unproven, but Mrs May is in overall charge. We will have to see."
But the commitment met with criticism from West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers.
Chairman Nick Smart said the current 12 month period was sufficient for the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate allegations relating to retired officers and make a decision.
He said the Federation had concerns regarding how "exceptional circumstances" were defined, for extending the time limit.
Mr Smart added that the definition of "serious wrongdoing" needed clarity and should be only used in very limited circumstances.
He added: "We would also welcome this being extended to MPs and other public bodies. It cannot be right that this just applies to police officers. If it is to become law, it should encompass all public sector bodies. Justice delayed is justice denied, and should be applied to all."
An inquest jury found earlier this year that the 96 Liverpool fans, including Tony Bland, of Keighley, who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.