THE original Hillsborough inquest verdicts of accident death have been overturned at the High Court in London.
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Igor Judge said the new evidence unearthed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel meant it was “inevitable” the verdicts should be quashed and new inquests ordered.
He said: “The effects must be that the truth, however distressing or unpalatable, will be brought out into the light. Let’s pause for the memory of each of the victims who should be properly respected.”
President of Hillsborough Family Support Group Trevor Hicks told reporters outside the court: “We are absolutely delighted. Justice is on its way. This is a huge step for the families.”
Attorney General Dominic Grieve argued the evidence showed there was “a real risk that justice has not been done” – and that new inquests were needed.
The main ground for the application was the new medical evidence which concluded 41 fans had the “potential to survive” beyond original coroner Stefan Popper’s 3.15pm cut-off point.
A supporting factor was the revelation police and ambulance service statements were changed to shift blame onto fans.
The safety record at Sheffield Wednesday FC’s Hillsborough stadium, which did not have a valid safety certificate, was another supporting element.
The Attorney General said: “Only new inquests can give a fuller answer as to whether intervention would have altered the tragically fatal outcome.
“That may lead to a markedly different conclusion as to how the deceased came by their death that would be recorded in new inquisitions. As such only new inquest, rather than a further judicial inquiry, can meet the interests of justice.”
Lord Judge said the application had sound grounds and he explained his reasons for ordering new inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans.
He also paid tribute to the families saying: “We must record our admiration for the determined search for the truth, for the causes of the disaster and how it occurred.
He also rounded on the decision to take blood alcohol samples from victims as part of the flawed initial inquests.
The Lord Chief Justice added: “This decision conveyed the impression to families that it explicitly or implicitly suggested that the deceased had somehow contributed to the disaster… [in fact] each one was a helpless victim of those terrible events.”