Court move begins to overturn Hillsborough inquest verdicts

Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape overcrowding during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape overcrowding during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
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AN application to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts could be made today, the Attorney General’s office said.

Families of the 96 victims of the 1989 tragedy have campaigned to have the accidental death verdicts overturned.

The Government’s senior law office Dominic Grieve will make an application to quash the verdicts “very soon” in the High Court, paving the way for new hearings.

The move comes after a damning report into the disaster 23 years ago laid bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said: “We hope to be making an application very soon. It could be this afternoon.”

Mr Grieve announced in October he would make an application to the High Court for fresh inquests after commencing a review of the evidence.

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the disaster, wrote on Twitter: “Just received e mail the Attorney General is sending kevins case to the divisional courts seeking a new inquest his death.”

More than 105,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for a fresh inquest into Kevin Williams’ death to be held swiftly as his mother is suffering from cancer.

Mrs Williams, 60, who has made four submissions to overturn the verdict of her son’s inquest to different Attorney Generals over the years, said this is what she had been waiting 23 years for.

She said: “Looking at it (the email) now, I can’t believe it. This is my fourth submission to Attorney Generals over the years and they have always come back ‘not in the interests of justice’.”

Mrs Williams said she was now “one step closer” to knowing the truth about what happened to her son on that day.

More than 105,000 people have signed a Government e-petition calling for a speedy hearing after Mrs Williams was diagnosed with a terminal illness in October.

But in a statement last month, the Attorney General said: “My duty is to act in the public interest of all the victims of Hillsborough and I consider that wider public interest requires a single application to be made in relation to the inquests. I have made good progress on preparing an application to the High Court for new inquests in these cases and I expect to make the application in December.”

Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, died at Hillsborough, said: “We have waited over 20-years for these verdicts to be overturned and I’m sure all the families will be delighted to hear that these steps are being taken.

“It is a great step towards getting the justice we have fought for.”

Last week new laws giving extra powers to the police watchdog investigating the Hillsborough disaster and cover-up were rushed through the Commons.

Policing minister Damian Green said the changes were essential to ensure the “double injustice” suffered by the victims of the 1989 disaster, as uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report published earlier this year, could be remedied.

The Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill had cross-party support and cleared the Commons in under four hours, receiving its second and third readings without a vote.

The actions of up to 2,400 serving or retired officers could be considered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation - the watchdog’s biggest ever investigation.

The new rules, which still have to be approved by the House of Lords, would enable the IPCC to compel serving officers or staff on other police bodies to attend an interview.