He also said the 3.15 cut off point meant “families of the victims did not regard the process that culminated in those verdicts as satisfactory, they believe it was wholly inadequate”.
“In our judgement the 3.15 cut-off point presents not only the most dramatic but perhaps the most distressing aspect of the material.”
He said it had four particularly “troublesome consequences”.
Firstly that many of the victims might have survived past that point had there been a better rescue operation. Secondly that it had not allowed for examination of further contributing factors or omissions which led to deaths. Thirdly, he said the failure of police control had not been looked at. And fourthly the way other organisations responded had not been examined.
Lord Judge said: “In our judgement this area of evidence is sufficient in its own right to justify the quashing of the original inquests.” He also said the “reprehensible” alteration of statements by the police could be a factor for the new inquests to look at adding: “The efforts by some to conceal neglect may have some reflection on the cases.”
The judge quoted the independent panel’s report which exposed unheeded safety warnings at the Hillsborough stadium.
And he said he wanted the new inquests to be held in a non-adversarial way unlike the original inquests which were “scarred” by the legal battles.
“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.”
Margaret Aspinall, chair of Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “It is a momentous day and means so much to us. We have been fighting for this for 23-and-a half years.
“We have been desperate to get the verdicts overturned.”
Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: “This truly is a momentous day for those that have fought for 23 years from those dark days in Sheffield when the accidental death verdict was recorded.
“The intervening years have seen a lot of other victims. The quashing of the verdicts, while 23 years too late, is the first phase in righting the wrong that is Hillsborough. It is the first phase on the road to justice.”