Hillsborough disaster group seek 'cover-up' damages

Hillsborough disaster
Image caption The 1989 match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground was called off six minutes after kick-off

Hillsborough survivors and relatives of those who died have been given the legal right to pursue a damages claim over "anguish" caused by the disaster and "the prolonged cover-up".

The 465 people were granted a group litigation order at the High Court.

Representing the group, Heather Williams QC said they had suffered "predominantly psychiatric injury".

In April, an inquests jury found 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed in the 1989 disaster.

The Hillsborough inquests

Five myths rejected by the jury

Police chief's role in the disaster

The 96 who died

The disaster unfolded during a FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on 15 April 1989.

In the immediate aftermath, fans were blamed by police, but after a 27-year campaign by victims' families, they were exonerated when the new inquests concluded in April.

The inquests were held after the original verdicts were quashed in 2012.

The jury said match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield was "responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence" and concluded police errors added to a dangerous situation.

Ms Williams told the court it was contended that "senior South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers constructed and propagated a false narrative intended to deflect blame... away from their own officers and on to Liverpool supporters".

She said SYP had been guilty of "suppressing and altering evidence" and West Midlands Police, the force appointed to investigate the disaster, who "thereafter assisted or facilitated SYP in this cover up".

She added the claimants "suffered damage as a result of the anguish caused by the prolonged cover-up, additional to damage suffered by the events of the disaster itself".

The order, which was described as the most efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with the claim, was granted by Master Barbara Fontaine.

The case is expected to return to the court in autumn 2017.

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