Retired police officers may be discouraged from giving evidence to ongoing investigations into the Hillsborough disaster because premature comments from senior politicians and others may have given the impression "that the result is a foregone conclusion", a group representing them has said.
The chairman of the Sheffield branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers said his members are being encouraged to co-operate with the various ongoing inquiries into the disaster that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989.
But Mick Brookfield said there were concerns that advance media coverage and statements from leading politicians "who should know better" would discourage his members.
In a letter to the Yorkshire Post, he said:
The role of South Yorkshire Police officers in the tragedy and the subsequent investigation into what happened at the stadium has come under intense scrutiny since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Report last year.
New inquests into the deaths are expected next year.
There is also a huge ongoing investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into the disaster. South Yorkshire Police have supplied the IPCC with the names of hundreds of officers who were on duty at the time. Most of these officers are now retired.
Unlike serving officers, retired officers cannot be compelled to comply with IPCC inquiries.