Hillsborough: Families seek new inquest verdicts

Trevor Hicks, Hillsborough Family Support Group: "We will be seeking new inquests"

Families of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster have announced they are to seek new inquests.

Relatives of the 96 who died have formally met with legal representatives at Anfield for the first time since an independent report was published.

Trevor Hicks, from the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said there was also pressure for criminal charges.

The report found police tried to blame fans for the crush on 15 April 1989.

Mr Hicks said: "This goes beyond Hillsborough. What happened on Wednesday was a disgrace to the nation, not just the families. This goes across society.

"The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel have finally vindicated the families in their 23-year struggle to establish the truth.

"However, after truth must come justice. We have spoken today to our lawyers and taken initial advice.

"We will be petitioning the government, the attorney general, the Director of Public Prosecutions on all these various matters and these letters will be going out tomorrow".

The group is now looking at three avenues to follow up. They are urging the attorney general to apply for new inquests, demanding full and immediate investigations into criminal prosecutions and, where appropriate, applying for civil proceedings to be reopened.

Mr Hicks said: "We believe if wrongdoing, civil or criminal, has happened people should be held accountable."

He also said the families want any new inquests to take place in Liverpool and not Sheffield.

High-profile lawyers for the campaign, Michael Mansfield QC and Lord Falconer, appeared at the meeting via an internet videolink.

Ninety-five fans were crushed to death and hundreds more injured on the overcrowded terraces of the Hillsborough stadium, which was hosting an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

400,000 documents

The 96th victim, Tony Bland, was left in a coma after the disaster and died in 1993.

The victims' families have always challenged the original inquest, which concluded all the victims were dead or brain dead 15 minutes after the game had kicked off.

Panel members, chaired by Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend James Jones, spent two years looking through more than 400,000 documents relating to the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

Their report showed police amended 164 of the police statements made about the tragedy, with 116 of those substantially changed to remove or alter "unfavourable" comments regarding the policing of the match.

It also showed the lives of 41 of the victims could potentially have been saved if the response of the emergency services had been swifter.

It was announced on Saturday a complaint against a senior officer involved in the disaster, Sir Norman Bettison, was to be investigated.

The complaint involving the West Yorkshire Chief Constable was being referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Sir Norman, who was with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster, said he welcomed the step.

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