Liverpool News: Hillsborough Verdicts Quashed, New Inquest on the Way

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 19:  Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and his former wife Jenni Hicks (R), who lost their two teenage daughters Sarah and Victoria in the Hillsbrough disaster, join Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, outside the High Court on December 19, 2012 in London, England. An application presented by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve to Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge has resulted in the quashing of the original accidental death verdict and an order for fresh inquests. The Hillsborough disaster occurred during the FA Cup semi-final tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs in April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, which resulted in the deaths of 96 football fans.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The city of Liverpool and the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster were granted a double victory on their path toward justice today, as it was announced that all original death verdicts would be quashed and that there would be a new police inquest into what happened on April 15, 1989.

It has been more than 20 years since the families of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough were told that "accidental death" was the official verdict of what happened, and since then they have been fighting a long and often unrewarding battle to expose the truth.

In September of this year, it was finally announced by Prime Minister David Cameron that the original conclusions had indeed been found to be flawed and wrong, and a full apology was granted to the families for the injustice they had suffered.

Two months on, the High Court of Justice has agreed to quash the original verdicts of accidental death for all 96 supporters who died after an application was made by the attorney general following the findings of an independent panel (via the BBC).

The panel spent 18 months looking at hundreds of thousands of papers, reports and statements before presenting its findings, which stated that more than 40 of those who died could have been saved had more been done to provide proper care and medical attention.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge has ordered that new inquests into how the supporters died be held. Attorney General Dominic Grieve cited medical experts' belief that more than 50 of the deceased could have still been alive past the 3:15 p.m. cut-off point—the time by which the original inquest stated all fans would have passed away—as one of the key factors for making a new inquest necessary.

As per the BBC, 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.

A new judge will now be appointed to oversee the new inquest as to the reasons that the 96 actually perished.

In addition to the death inquests, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that there would be a new police inquiry into the disaster itself. As per the official Liverpool FC website, May said:

While the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice. [Lead investigator] Jon Stoddart is a skilled and dedicated investigator who will bring a huge amount of policing experience to this demanding job. I am giving the IPCC new powers to investigate police misconduct, but this investigation will ensure nobody with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.

This news will be much welcomed by both the club and the families of the deceased, who are keen to ensure that along with proper disclosure of the truth of what happened at Hillsborough comes accountability and justice for those who failed to protect the supporters.

The fight for justice in the Hillsborough campaign continues apace with this latest news, while more widespread attention to the issue has been sought with the release of a charity single by various musical celebrities (via the Liverpool team site).

Justice Collective are aiming to make the Christmas No. 1 single in the U.K. to raise awareness and funds for the families.