—- Two retired police officers and an ex-solicitor accused of altering police statements after the Hillsborough disaster have been acquitted.

Retired Ch Supt Donald Denton, retired Det Ch Insp Alan Foster and former solicitor Peter Metcalf had denied perverting the course of justice.

Mr Justice William Davis ruled they had no case to answer.

Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the disaster, said the ruling was “an absolute mockery” and a “shambles”.

“We’re always the losers no matter what the outcome today,” she said.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the crush at the FA Cup semi-final match at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground on 15 April 1989.

Mr Denton, Mr Foster and Mr Metcalf were accused of trying to minimise the blame placed on South Yorkshire Police in the aftermath of the disaster by altering statements.

However, the judge said the statements had been prepared for the public inquiry chaired by Lord Taylor in 1990.

He said this was not a statutory inquiry and therefore not considered “a court of law”, so it was not a “course of public justice” which could be perverted.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said they would not seek leave to appeal against the judge’s decision.

Speaking at the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield, Ms Aspinall said: “We’ve got the death certificate with 96 unlawfully killed but yet not one person has been held to account.”

She said she felt there was “a cover-up over a cover-up” but she said the Hillsborough families “could go no further”.

“They are tired, they are getting old, a lot of them have gone to their graves tormented and to me that is a disgrace,” she said.

Mary Corrigan, whose 17-year-old son Keith McGrath died in the tragedy, said she was “so angry”.

She also criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for their lack of support for the families.

Liverpool FC said the decision was a “huge disappointment” and victims had been “let down yet again”.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who campaigned with the Hillsborough families, said: “We’ve all given it our all but our all was not enough to secure any accountability for the 96 unlawful deaths on British soil.”

He said the scales of justice were “weighed against ordinary people” and called for Hillsborough Law to be introduced.

It would place a duty of candour on all public officials and require parity of legal funding for bereaved families and public bodies, he said.

Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said the decision was a “stain on the judicial system” and “yet another kick in the teeth” for the families.

Sue Hemming, from the CPS, said they were “right to bring this case and for a court to hear the evidence of what happened in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster”.

She said what had been heard in court would have been “surprising to many”.

“That a publicly funded authority can lawfully withhold information from a public inquiry charged with finding out why 96 people died at a football match, in order to ensure that it never happened again – or that a solicitor can advise such a withholding, without sanction of any sort – may be a matter which should be subject to scrutiny.”

Claire Bassett, from the IOPC, added: “Serious questions must remain over the public and moral duty of police in helping authorities to understand and prevent a further disaster like Hillsborough.”

Mr Denton, 83, of Sheffield; Mr Foster, 74, of Harrogate; and Mr Metcalf, 71, of Ilkley, had all denied two counts of perverting the course of justice.

The three men were on trial at the Nightingale Court at the Lowry Theatre in Salford for more than four weeks.