Hillsborough inquest verdicts quashed by High Court

 

Trevor Hicks, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, on the High Court's quashing of inquests

The High Court has quashed the original inquest verdicts returned on 96 Liverpool football fans who died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge ordered new inquests after Attorney General Dominic Grieve's application.

Outside court, Trevor Hicks ,of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said it was "a huge step for the families".

The home secretary has also announced a new police inquiry into the disaster.

Theresa May said the new inquiry would re-examine what happened on 15 April 1989.

Mr Grieve said he applied to the High Court as a result of the Hillsborough Panel's report, published on 12 September, which said 41 of those who died might have been saved.

Anne Williams: "I wanted the record put straight"

He added Dr Bill Kirkup, the panel's medical member and a former associate chief medical officer at the Department of Health, had explained 58 of the dead "definitely" or "probably" had the capacity to survive beyond the 15:15 cut-off time.

New evidence undermined the coroner's summing-up, he said, adding later on BBC Radio 4's PM programme, that the report revealed "serious flaws" in the inquest.

He cited concerns about the timing of the fans' deaths, the role of the police and the false allegations that alcohol had played a material part in the tragedy, adding: "It [alcohol] was also used to blacken the reputation of the fans and potentially the victims, in a way that was very unfortunate, completely unacceptable and unfair."

Lord Judge said there was "deliberate misinformation surrounding the disaster".

"There has been a profound and palpable belief that justice had not been done [and] it is clear there are sound grounds for this application," he said.

He added the court wanted to "record our admiration and respect [to the families] for their determined search for the truth about the disaster and why and how it had occurred, which - despite disappointments and setbacks - has continued for nearly quarter of a century."

Analysis

As court five of the High Court filled up with the bereaved and survivors of Hillsborough, the room was full of expectation.

They had travelled more than 200 miles to be here, some leaving Liverpool at dawn.

Campaigner Anne Williams, suffering from cancer, was determined to come, and was brought in to court in her wheelchair.

This moment has been anticipated for more than two decades.

Relatives were so unhappy with the original verdicts of accidental death, they refused to collect their loved ones' death certificates.

And they have always been angry at the coroner's assessment that all Hillsborough victims were fatally injured by 15:15.

For them, the opportunity to see the verdicts quashed and new inquests ordered was too important to miss.

When it came, normal court decorum was abandoned - the room erupted into applause, some relatives cried, and caught in the moment, one woman shouted: "Thank you, your Honour".

Mr Hicks, who lost two daughters in the disaster, said the families "couldn't have written it better".

"It's clear now justice is on its way - I think a lot of us are going to have a much happier Christmas," he said.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he would do everything to get "new inquests established quickly".

"I have received a request from the Doncaster and Bradford Coroners for a judge to be appointed to conduct these inquests and I am today asking the Lord Chief Justice to make a recommendation to me on suitable candidates as soon as possible," he added.

Mrs May said former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart would lead the new inquiry, focussing specifically on the Liverpool fans' deaths as a result of what happened at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest.

Ninety-five fans died after they were crushed within two pens at the Leppings Lane terrace of Sheffield Wednesday's stadium, while the 96th died three years later after a Law Lords ruling stopping his tube feeding.

Mr Stoddart can recruit his own team but not any officers or former officers with any prior connection to the disaster or from West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.

He said his first priority was to meet with "as many of the families as possible" and to "establish a working open relationship with them".

The 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster Ninety-six Liverpool fans lost their lives as a result of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989

The original inquest verdicts angered many bereaved families who were told at the 1990 hearing that all victims had been injured by 15:15 on the afternoon of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Evidence covering the response by the emergency services after this time was not heard.

Some relatives travelled to London for the hearing, while other family members and survivors watched on screens in Liverpool Family Court.

Chief Constable Jon Stoddart Jon Stoddart stepped down as Durham Police chief constable in October

Damian Kavanagh, who attended the match and helped care for the injured, said the judgement was "massive".

"I never thought this day would come. It's uplifting to get to this stage and a serious wrong in society is going to be put right," he said.

"It's been an open wound for the city. We went through hell on that day and to get it turned around as if it was our fault, I can't describe it."

Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son, said something had "been achieved here today that's not been achieved before".

"It's took us 23 years to get this, we're not there yet but hopefully now we'll get there," she said.

"We have proved we were telling the truth all along - now we have to get the justice [the victims] deserve."

The Hillsborough panel's findings showed police and emergency services had made "strenuous attempts" to deflect the blame for the disaster on to the fans.

More than 160 police statements had been altered - 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the match.

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 73.

    This is great news, and about time too.

    For those complaining about all the media attention this is getting, I'm sure you'll find that the families would rather there not be a need for it either. If it weren't for the lies, the cover up, the wrong verdicts at the original inquest, and the time its taken to get to the position we are at today, then there wouldn't be a need for court cases etc.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 72.

    Still not full justice but this will come in the end and head should roll

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 71.

    @44 Family Guy
    TO PUT YOU STRAIGHT......As far back as it takes

    There is no waste of time for any of the incidences you mention.

    And if you think it's OK to bury your head in the sand after a certain time has elapsed......then go and have a long hard look in the mirror.

  • rate this
    +92

    Comment number 70.

    To those saying it's a waste of time and "get over it". Perhaps if you had been there, like I was, and lost someone and had to live for 23 years with the finger of blame pointing at you, then you would take a very different view. Even now, people are blaming Liverpool fans. It's disgraceful. You are wrong and it could be libelous.

    Don't let your club bias get in the way. It could have been you.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 69.

    benlucalaylee You seem to be forgetting who the people are that are fighting for this its the family of the dead they can not heal until this is sorted, all you lot seem to talk about is Money, Its not your Money they are using its their own and Money given to them by People who care, Not sure if you would be so flippent if it was a member of your family

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 68.

    28.jft96 "... brought to book. All costs should be covered by the govt, these families have suffered enough they shouldn't have to rely on other peoples goodwill and charity singles...."

    The Government only use our (ordinary taxpayers) money as do the Police. Is it not unfair to expect every taxpayer to keep throwing money at lawyers and shysters just to keep this pot boiling?

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +43

    Comment number 66.

    The only way the relatives of the 96 victims who lost their lives at Hillsborough will receive justice is to see those responsible charged on two counts:
    - Manslaughter.
    - Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice.

    Long sentences should be served on both counts.... perhaps a minimum of 23 years!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +57

    Comment number 64.

    One has to wonder how many resignations or early retirements there will be in the face of an inquiry into the police handling of Hillsborough.

    It may be 23 years on but I wonder if the people commenting here abourt we've heard and seen it over and over again would feel the same way if a member of their family had been a victim in the disaster. It is a wrong that needs to be put right.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 61.

    The police officers who lied at Hillsborough were also involved in many, many other arrests and court cases. Can anything they did or said, before or after Hillsborough, be trusted? Will everything they did now be considered unsafe and be reviewed?

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 60.

    @ 24. Derpsworth
    4 MINUTES AGO
    Hillsborough. Again."

    Oh, well I am very sorry this is a bit of an annoyance for you. I'm sure the families would love to have seen justice done 23 years ago and not have to have gone through 23 years of pain and anguish.

    What an utterly inane comment

  • rate this
    +61

    Comment number 59.

    Seriously, to all those saying what will this achieve - up to 41 fans could have survived this tragedy. 23 years of fans being blamed for this, orchestrated by incompetent and lying "authority figures". Maybe if you'd lost a loved one in such circumstances, your stance would be very different.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 58.

    @ 15. Reinasbaldhead

    Couldn't agree more.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 57.

    The only good thing that came out of Hillsborough was the boycott of Murdoch's despicable newspapers on Merseyside.

    It's about time Rupert apologised.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 56.

    @34.conkerz21

    "23 years of lies and corruption by an entire police force"

    I would be very careful about making any further comments....this remark besides being wrong is just plain stupid.

    You are not neccessarily protected by the anonimty that you think on these forums.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 55.

    Hillsborough, Miners Strike, Dunblane (we want the truth), Iraq War, Andrew Mitchell. Lies, Lies & more Lies from the Police & Judiciary. Is there any way we can trust them any more. Then there is Bribery, Cover Up, turning the other way when they could have arrested TV child rapists. Is anyone still proud of the British Bobby, a Front or an Affront. Who will decide?

  • rate this
    -30

    Comment number 54.

    Yes, this was tragic. The police cover ups were scandalous, but really. This will not bring them back, will cost millions, and ultimatley acheive nothing - who will this really benefit? Not the families who have to love through it again. The lawyers and suits will hoover up the tax payers money. Money better spent on urgent, pressing matters of today.

 

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