Judges will be asked next Wednesday to quash Hillsborough 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 by the Attorney General to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts is due to be heard at the High Court next week, the Judicial Office said today.

The application is listed to be heard on Wednesday December 19 by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London - subject to any applications by “interested parties” to adjourn.

A spokesman for the Judicial Office said: “The Attorney General’s application to quash the Hillsborough inquest verdicts has been listed for a substantive hearing before the Divisional Court on Wednesday 19 December, subject to any applications by interested parties to adjourn.

“The Lord Chief Justice, sitting with two other judges, will hear the application.”

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

The move by Dominic Grieve 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.

Mr Grieve announced in October he would make an application to the High Court for fresh inquests after beginning 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.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) today announced that it has begun consulting families on its provisional terms of reference for its investigation into the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy.

The detailed terms of reference deal only with the investigation into the aftermath, which is examining:

• The amendments to statements - who ordered it, who knew about it, who was involved in the process, and whether pressure was put on individual officers;

• The allegations that misleading information was passed to the media, MPs, Parliament and inquiries in an apparent attempt to deflect blame from the police on to the fans;

• The actions of police officers after the disaster, including the questioning of next of kin about alcohol consumption, the checking of blood alcohol levels and the undertaking of Police National Computer checks on the dead and injured; and

• The role of West Midlands Police and those who led that investigation into the disaster.

Deborah Glass, the IPCC deputy chair who is leading the investigation, said: “I have met the Hillsborough Family Support Group and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, and written to all the other families who asked to be updated to advise them of the progress of our investigation and share the terms of reference.

“I have stressed that these terms of reference will be kept under review as the investigation progresses, and have made it clear that we welcome their comments.”

Ms Glass confirmed that the investigation would be looking into the actions of more than 2,000 police officers.

She said: “At present we have a list of 1,444 names provided by South Yorkshire Police covering officers who were apparently on duty at Hillsborough, who responded to the disaster or who were involved in the aftermath.

“In addition we are aware that 30 more police forces or police-related bodies had officers or staff who played some kind of role in relation to Hillsborough - that covers more than 400 officers. And we are aware there may be more officers whose details we have not had yet, particularly from West Midlands Police. So we estimate we will have in excess of 2,000 names to analyse.”

Ms Glass said the IPCC would be examining 450,000 pages of evidence gathered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel and will have to find out whether other documentation exists that may be relevant to a criminal or misconduct investigation.

She added: “I understand that many people want to see quick action after all these years.

“But completing the full picture for the families of those who died, those who were injured and those who were traumatised by the terrible events at Hillsborough is not going to be a quick or easy process.

“We are making real progress, and within the next month we expect that the shape and integration of this complex and multi-faceted investigation will be clearer. The scale and complexity mean that we have to put the right foundations in place. We don’t want to replicate those previous investigations and reviews that came to quick, but incomplete or inaccurate, conclusions.”

Ms Glass said the IPCC was also discussing setting up a “challenge group” of independent people who can scrutinise the work of both the IPCC and the office of the DPP in a bid to satisfy and reassure the families about the progress, independence and robustness of the work.