February 20, 2013
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.
Since that time the quest for the truth of what happened on that day has, quite rightly, not ceased. I have been following events on The Huffington Post UK website and I believe it is very good news that a formal application to quash the verdicts of the original Hillsborough inquests has been made by the Government’s top lawyer. The move comes after a damning report into the tragedy revealed a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to the victims. The site reports as follows:
‘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.”
BBC Sport reported likewise:
‘An application to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts has been made by Attorney General Dominic Grieve.’
Families of the victims have campaigned for years to have the original 1991 accidental death verdicts overturned. These reports and the sentiments of the Attorney General must be very encouraging news for them. I fully understand that lawyers have to choose their words very carefully. A ‘good’ case is fine but I think a ‘strong’ case could have been better; having said that, if the eventual outcome is the right one for the relatives of the victims particularly, then perhaps the choice of one word matters not so much.
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”. This is the way of it and for me it is the end result that is important and not the place of the new inquests although I do fully understand the sentiments. Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, died at Hillsborough, is reported to have 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.”
New laws, giving extra powers to the police watchdog investigating the Hillsborough disaster and cover up, were rushed through the House of Commons in this month. 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. Well then, perhaps the word ‘strong’ rather than ‘good’ may be apt after all but as I say, it the eventual outcome that is so important to the case.
Mr Grieve is the government’s most senior law officer. He has made the application to the High Court, paving the way for new hearings. He said the main basis for the move was new medical evidence. He explained that the alteration of evidence by the police and other emergency services was also a supporting factor, along with stadium safety.
Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the disaster, wrote on Twitter; “Just received e mail the Attorney General is sending Kevin’s case to the divisional courts seeking a new inquest his death.”
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.
Mrs Williams said she was now ‘one step closer’ to knowing the truth about what happened to her son on that day.
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. It is good to know that in football ‘We never walk alone’.