• Hillsborough

Move for Hillsborough verdicts to be quashed

ESPN staff
December 10, 2012
Families of the victims have campaigned for years to have the original verdicts overturned © PA Photos

The Attorney General has called for new inquests to be made into the deaths of the 96 who died at Hillsborough.

Dominic Grieve MP confirmed on Monday that an application had been made to the High Court to quash the original verdicts of accidental death.

"I believe that the case for the High Court to quash the original inquests is a good one," the Attorney General said.

"My application has now been lodged with the Court. It is my intention to appear to argue the case at the hearing that will take place in the High Court."

Mr Grieve's move came after an independent report into the Hillsborough disaster exonerated Liverpool supporters of any blame for the deaths of 96 fans at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.

The report revealed the extent to which emergency services attempted to cover up their culpability and shift the blame on to fans, and also highlighted flaws in the original 1991 inquests conducted by coroner Stefan Popper. Dr Popper refused to consider any evidence collected after 3.15pm on the day of the tragedy, ruling that all of the victims were dead by that time.

However, the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, published in September, revealed that 41 of the supporters who died had the potential to survive beyond that cut-off point. Campaign groups have long maintained that the original inquest verdicts prevented a proper investigation into the tragedy. Now they are calling for the verdicts to be quashed quickly so that fresh inquests can take place.

Once the Attorney General's application is made, it will then need to be assessed at a High Court hearing. It is not yet clear when that hearing would be held, or how long it would take, and Mr Grieve has warned that the timetable for that will be out of his hands.

More than 105,000 people have signed an internet petition calling for the inquest of one of the victims, Kevin Williams, to be brought forward as his mother Anne has terminal cancer. She told the Liverpool Echo: "I've had all this evidence for a long time and presented it to previous Attorney Generals, who didn't do their job properly and rejected it for supposedly 'not being in the interests of justice'.

"It is terrible how this has gone on for so long but the main thing is the right things are now happening."

Mr Grieve has previously indicated that the timing of any new inquests could be affected by an investigation into police wrongdoing set up in October.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is the UK police watchdog, will examine the role played by officers on the day of the tragedy and afterwards, and could lead to criminal charges being brought by director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer.

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