South Yorkshire Police's chief constable David Crompton has been suspended following the Hillsborough inquest verdicts, which ruled all 96 Liverpool supporters who died in the tragedy were unlawfully killed.
Crompton, who said the force "unequivocally accepts the verdict" while admitting they got the policing of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final game "catastrophically wrong", has been suspended over the response to the inquest, following calls by the families of the victims for him to stand down.
Dr Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, confirmed "with a heavy heart" that Crompton has been suspended. He said: "My decision is based on the erosion of public trust and confidence referenced in statements and comments in the House of Commons this lunchtime, along with public calls for the Chief Constable's resignation from a number of quarters including local MPs."
The decision just hours arrived after Andy Burnham, who played a crucial role in getting the original accidental deaths verdict quashed, also called of Crompton to stand down during a rousing speech in the House of Commons in which he praised the families of the victims who have "kept their dignity in the face of terrible adversity" for the last 27 years.
He said: "The much bigger question for the South Yorkshire Police to answer today is this: why, at this inquest, did they go back on their 2012 public apology? When the Lord Chief Justice quashed the original inquest, he requested that the new one not degenerate into an 'adversarial battle'.
"Sadly, that is exactly what happened. Shamefully, the cover-up continued in this Warrington court room. Millions of pounds of public money were spent retelling discredited lies. Does the home secretary [Theresa May] agree that, because of his handling of this inquest, the position of the chief constable is now untenable?"
South Yorkshire Police was forced to release a statement in which they denied the evidence their officers gave at the inquests contradicted the apology the force gave in 2012 following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Report, which revealed how police had altered statements in order to pass the blame onto "drunken" Liverpool fans.
A spokesperson said: "We have been asked about our conduct at the inquests. The coroner himself gave a clear ruling that specifically addresses the relationship between apologies and evidence at the inquests. He ruled that to admit the previous 2012 apology by the chief constable into proceedings would be 'wrong' and 'highly prejudicial'.
"He also ruled that the conduct of SYP during the inquests was not inconsistent with this earlier apology. The force has taken careful note of the coroner's comments during the Inquests and has sought to be open and transparent at all stages. We are sorry if our approach has been perceived as at odds with our earlier apology, this was certainly not our intention."
Following the verdict, which cleared all Liverpool fans of any blame for the deaths and ruled error by police – including then chief superintendent David Duckenfield – ambulance services and engineers were responsible for the deaths, Crompton said: "On 15 April 1989, South Yorkshire Police got the policing of the FA cup semi-final at Hillsborough catastrophically wrong. It was and still is the biggest disaster in British sporting history. That day 96 people died and the lives of many others were changed forever. The force failed the victims and failed their families. I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.
"We recognise that this is an important day for the families of those who died at the Hillsborough Disaster and for everyone affected by what happened. They have waited 27 years for this outcome. Our thoughts are with them."