Hillsborough: Application for new inquests

Attorney General Dominic Grieve: "I am persuaded that an application for fresh inquests must be made"

The Attorney General is applying to have the verdicts in the inquest into the 96 deaths at Hillsborough quashed.

Dominic Grieve QC announced the move in Parliament in his response to the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report published on 12 September.

The report revealed 41 fans could potentially have been saved.

The victims' families have always challenged the original inquest verdict of accidental death.

Mr Grieve said his consideration of the evidence was far from over, but he was taking the exceptional step of indicating he must apply to the High Court for new inquests to be held on the basis of the evidence he has already read.

He told the Commons: "I will apply to have every one of those 96 inquests quashed.

"I believe that these deaths, arising as they do from a common chain of events, should all be considered afresh."

'Sensible decision'

He added that any criminal proceedings would have an impact on when a new inquest could take place but he said this would not affect the timing of his application to have the original verdicts overturned.

Mr Grieve also said the resources for fresh inquests would be funded by taxpayers.

The Attorney General's announcement does not necessarily mean that new inquests will be held into the deaths of all 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

Still less does it mean that criminal charges will follow. But Dominic Grieve's request is likely to be granted by the High Court, leading to fresh inquests.

It is also likely that the original verdicts of accidental death will be quashed.

The Attorney General's announcement raises the possibility that new inquests will return narrative verdicts recording that some of the Liverpool fans might have survived if mistakes had not been made in 1989.

When asked about where the inquests would take place if the application was successful, he said it would be for the court and coroner to decide if the hearings would take place in Liverpool, as the victims' families have requested.

He also told MPs Home Secretary Theresa May will lead a debate on the Hillsborough panel's report in the Commons on Monday.

Michael Mansfield QC, who is representing Hillsborough families, said it was an "extremely sensible decision" to apply for fresh inquests.

He said: "I think it is very welcome especially as the families have suffered so much anguish for so long.

"The original inquest was conducted on a false basis and many families refused to accept death certificates until a proper, thorough and independent hearing takes place."

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram said the move "marks one of the biggest steps forward in the fight for justice for the families in 23 years".

He said: "The undeniable fact is that the original inquest was unsound and this application, if successful, will mean that evidence will be able to be heard after the 3.15pm cut off imposed by the original coroner in the 1989 inquests," he said.

Police wrongdoing

The Hillsborough Independent Panel spent 18 months looking through more than 450,000 pages of documents relating to the fatal crush at the Hillsborough stadium during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

David Crompton Chief Constable David Crompton gave evidence to a select committee

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

The Attorney General's announcement follows confirmation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Director of Public Prosecutions that the biggest ever independent investigation into police wrongdoing is to be carried out into the disaster.

South Yorkshire Police has announced it will give the IPCC details of officers on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster.

Chief Constable David Crompton told a parliamentary select committee there were 100 serving officers on duty, as well as hundreds now retired and some from other forces.

Mr Crompton, who agreed under questioning that some police had been "sick" to deflect blame on to Liverpool fans, said his force was not making decisions about officers' culpability and was leaving that to the IPCC.

Asked by committee member David Winnick what would represent "closure" for the force, the chief constable said prosecutions if officers had broken the law.

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