Phil Scraton, member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and primary author of the body's report on the tragedy, has welcomed the decision to quash the inquest verdicts of the 96 victims.
Professor Scraton, who has also written Hillsborough: The Truth as well as two previous reports looking into the disaster, today said: “This is long overdue. Our research, based on attending what were then the longest inquests in English legal history, and our analysis of the transcripts, was first published in 1995 detailing the flaws in the investigation, selection and presentation of evidence.
"It exposed the inadequacy of the process, proposed that the medical evidence was unreliable and that the 3.15pm cut-off on evidence denied many of the bereaved their right to question the circumstances in which their loved ones died. It considered the taking of blood alcohol levels from all who died indefensible and prejudicial.”
“The alteration of police and ambulance officers’ statements forms an important element of the Attorney General’s submission to the High Court and draws in detail on the Panel’s careful review of this unprecedented process.
GALLERY: How the Liverpool ECHO has reported the Hillsborough tragedy down the years
"His submission also relies on the Panel’s methodical coverage of the well-established dangers of an inherently unsafe terrace. As our research disclosed, an unsafe ground evolved to become dangerous. The risks were known yet the risks were run.”
Reflecting on the vital issue that the lives of up to 58 Liverpool fans might have been saved on that fateful day in April 1989 had they received immediate and appropriate treatment, Professor Scraton said: "Dr Bill Kirkup’s forensic review of the pathologists’ reports was the basis for this conclusion.
"It confirmed what we had concluded and published soon after the inquests – that a substantial number of those who died were still alive at 3.15pm and it was imperative that the quality of emergency care and treatment received should have been examined at the inquests to establish whether some who died might have been saved."
“Today is highly significant for the bereaved and survivors. Yet the High Court decision calls into question not only the conduct of the initial inquests and the investigations that serviced them. It is an indictment of what followed – the 1993 Judicial Review of the verdicts and the 1998 Scrutiny of evidence under Lord Justice Stuart-Smith.
"In both instances the documents reviewed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel were available yet seemingly dismissed. And so the pain and suffering endured by the bereaved and survivors was extended beyond another decade.”
Look back on the ECHO's four-part series with Phil Scraton looking into the panel's report and the road ahead to justice: