Hillsborough inquests: Looking at how 96 Liverpool fans died

Shankly Gates Families of the 96 people who died are hoping the new inquests will shed new light on the tragedy

New inquests are being held to investigate how 96 football fans died as a result of the Hillsborough stadium disaster on 15 April 1989. The victims were all Liverpool supporters watching their team play Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

The BBC's Hillsborough reporter Ben Schofield explains the process.

What is happening?

The inquests are taking place in front of Lord Justice Goldring, a Court of Appeal judge who is acting as coroner for the hearings. The Ministry of Justice has built the biggest courtroom in England and Wales, in an office building near Warrington, to host them.

Lord Justice Goldring ordered the hearings had to be held in the north west of England because most of the victims' families live in the region.

Unusually for inquests, a jury will hear the evidence and will be asked to decide on the verdict.

The coroner's court in Warrington The inquests will be held in a purpose-built courtroom in an office building in Birchwood Park, in Warrington
What will the inquests cover?

Strictly speaking, inquests are held to record the identity of the deceased, as well as when, where and how they died. To do this, the Hillsborough inquests are expected to hear evidence on several themes:

  • stadium safety, which may include the design of the ground
  • South Yorkshire Police's preparations for the match
  • crowd management on the day
  • how the emergency services responded to the disaster
  • the individual experiences of the 96, including medical evidence about how exactly they died
Why are they being held?

These are not the first Hillsborough inquests. A series of 'mini-inquests' and a larger generic hearing took place between April 1990 and March 1991.

The accidental death verdicts on all 96 men, women and children who died stood for more than 20 years until they were quashed by the High Court in December 2012.

The court then ordered new inquests to be held.

Lord Justice John Goldring Lord Justice John Goldring has been appointed as the coroner for the new Hillsborough inquests
How did we get here almost 25 years on?

The High Court was asked by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, to quash the original verdicts. He did so shortly after the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, in September 2012.

The panel consisted of nine independent people, each experts in different fields, and was chaired by the then Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones.

They scrutinised about 450,000 pieces of evidence including new evidence about the disaster and how the 96 died.

What else is going on?

There are two other investigations going on into Hillsborough: a police investigation called Operation Resolve and an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry. Both will continue while the inquests are going on.

Operation Resolve, which is being led by Assistant Commissioner Jon Stoddart, who is Durham's former chief constable, is looking at events leading up to the disaster, as well as the disaster itself.

Hillsborough memorial and Shankly Gates, Anfield Stadium Accidental death verdicts on the 96 men, women and children who died were quashed in December 2012

That includes all the decisions about managing the crowds on the day, responding to the events as they unfolded, as well as the stadium design and safety checks. The Operation Resolve team is feeding material into the inquests as they find it.

The IPCC is looking at police activity after the disaster and whether any serving or former officer is guilty of misconduct, including any allegations of a cover-up.

How long will it all take?

The inquests are currently due to last until the end of the year, but some of the legal teams say they could run into 2015.

Operation Resolve and the IPCC investigations do not have a fixed time frame, but are unlikely to conclude before the inquests are over.

More on This Story

Hillsborough Inquests

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  6.  
    Hillsborough PC statement altered 17:33:

    A police officer on duty at Hillsborough had his statement altered weeks after the disaster with some lines "scrawled out" and with annotations not in his handwriting.

    Hillsborough disaster 15 April 1989

    PC Gary Cammock told the inquest jury he wrote up his account of the police response at Leppings Lane on 15 April 1989 following the call for all available officers to assist at the ground.

    Mr Cammock had stated: "One thing that I do remember was that throughout all the chaos and s***, only one gaffer was as far as I was concerned doing anything and that was Chief Superintendent Nisbet and he was doing a brilliant job."

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    Lady Justice

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  14.  
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    M53

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    Beer at rugby ground

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    CCTV shows attack suspect 14:37:

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    CCTV

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    Det Con Robert Sandham, of Merseyside Police, said: "I would appeal to the man shown in these pictures, or anyone who recognises him, to get in touch with us."

     
  25.  
    PC briefed on 'drunk fans' claim 14:24: Ben Schofield Reporter, Hillsborough Inquests

    A former police sergeant on duty at Hillsborough would not have mentioned "drunk or ticketless fans" in his statement had he not been briefed by a top South Yorkshire Police officer after the disaster.

    The Hillsborough Inquests jury heard that Philip Lomas and up to 13 colleagues met with Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Anderson in the week following the disaster where they were told officers were not to blame.

    In a statement after that meeting, Mr Lomas noted fans carrying "large quantities of alcohol, including six-packs of lager".

    Mark George QC, who represents 22 bereaved families, asked the former officer: "If it had not been for what Mr Anderson told you when he came to visit in Doncaster, you probably wouldn't have recorded in your statement anything about drink or ticketless fans?"

    Mr Lomas replied: 'That's correct. I wouldn't have done.'

     
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    A former police sergeant on duty at Hillsborough would not have mentioned "drunk or ticketless fans" in his statement, had he not been briefed by a top South Yorkshire Police officer after the disaster.

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    Loxdale Local store

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    News on the hour 13:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

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    Philip Lomas is giving evidence for a second day at the Hillsborough inquests in Warrington.

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    Roberto Martinez and Samuel Eto'o

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    Turnstiles at the Hillsborough stadium

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  39.  
    News on the hour 12:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    A former police sergeant has been accused of being "welded" to his account of seeing large numbers of football fans drinking and carrying alcohol before the Hillsborough disaster.

    The jury at the Hillsborough Inquests in Warrington has heard Philip Lomas claim he had never seen so much drinking ahead of a match.

    Listen to our live bulletin.

     
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    Tennis club members in West Kirby

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    The Florence Institute for Boys

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    Samuel Eto'o

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    Mario Balotelli

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  57.  
    News on the hour 09:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

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  58.  
    PC 'instructed' on Hillsborough statement 08:56:

    A police sergeant working on the day of the Hillsborough disaster was told what to put in and leave out of his statement by a senior officer, an inquest into the deaths heard.

    The Hillsborough disaster

    Philip Colin Lomas said the instructions were given because of "blame" towards South Yorkshire Police.

    Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Anderson was said to have told officers not to blame themselves for the disaster because it was the fault of 'drunk, ticketless fans'.

     
  59.  
    Are we less honest? 08:47: Tony Snell BBC Radio Merseyside

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    Downloading

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  60.  
    Teens held over attack 08:40:

    A second teenager has been arrested following an attack on a couple in Liverpool.

    Mersey Kebab on Dale Street

    A man, 23, and woman, 20, were attacked on Saturday night as they left Mersey Kebab shop on Dale Street. The female victim was sexually assaulted.

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  61.  
    Rail expansion plan unveiled 08:32: Liverpool Echo
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    Sam's a Blue 08:24:

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    Rush hour delays 08:15:

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  64.  
    Warm, sunny spells 08:06:

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    BBC weather

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  65.  
    News on the hour 08:02: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    A second teenager is being questioned about an alleged attack on a young man and woman in Liverpool city centre over the Bank Holiday weekend.

    The pair were threatened with a glass bottle on Dale Street early on Saturday, and forced to get money out of a cash machine before the woman was indecently assaulted. A 16-year-old from Huyton has already been charged.

    Listen to our live bulletin.

     
  66.  
    Good morning 08:00: Tom Mullen BBC News Online

    Greetings on this fresh August morning in Liverpool. I'm here with today's news, sport, weather and travel updates. Feel free to send in your comments, pictures or snippets of news by tweeting us, emailing us, or posting on our Facebook page.

     

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