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Application made to quash Hillsborough verdicts by British government

Updated: Monday, 10 Dec 2012 18:45 | Comments

Fresh inquests will be held into the 96 deaths should the original Hillsborough verdicts get quashed
Fresh inquests will be held into the 96 deaths should the original Hillsborough verdicts get quashed

A formal application to quash the verdicts of the original Hillsborough inquests has been made by the British government's top lawyer.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said there was a "good" case for setting aside the accidental death verdicts and holding new hearings into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 football stadium disaster.

The move comes after a damning report into the tragedy revealed a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to the victims.

Mr Grieve will appear in person at the High Court to argue that new evidence means there should be fresh inquests.

He said: "I believe that the case for the High Court to quash the original inquests is a good one.

"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."

If the court quashes the original inquests and orders fresh inquests to be heard, its powers are limited to referring the cases back to the district in which they were originally heard.

In 95 of the cases this means the cases must be sent back to Sheffield or Doncaster.

It is understood that the Attorney General will suggest that the court should return the cases to Doncaster.

The families had made it clear they wished for the new inquests to be held in Liverpool but a spokesman for the Attorney General's office said the location will be "a matter for the coronial process".

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on 15 April, 1989, during their FA Cup semi-final tie with Nottingham Forest.

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.

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 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.

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