Fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC supporters who died in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 1989 got underway this morning.
The coroner’s inquests are being held at a purpose-built state-of-the-art court at Birchwood Business Park in Warrington and started just before 11.45am.
The court room, which seats 500 people, was packed with lawyers, the families of the victims and members of the media.
Among the organisations being represented by 86 lawyers are South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council, Police Federation, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, St John Ambulance, Sheffield Wednesday FC and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
Coroner Lord Justice Goldring entered court almost an hour and 15 minutes after the hearing was due to begin at 10.30am.
His first task was to select the jury.
A jury of eleven was chosen to hear the case with ten further jurors to sit in reserve.
They were told they must be available for up to a year. They were also asked to highlight if they were fans of Sheffield Wednesday FC, Nottingham Forest or Liverpool FC.
There was laughter in court as one man told the coroner he was an Everton FC fan.
The jury is expected to be officially sworn in tomorrow.
That will be followed by an opening statement from the coroner.
‘Pen portraits’ about each of the 96 victims will then be outlined by the families or their lawyers.
That process is expected to take three weeks and the jury will not sit during the week of April 15 - the week of the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.
Speaking before the hearing Amy McGlone, whose dad Alan died at Hillsborough, said: “I don’t really know how I’m feeling.
“We’ve waited for this for such a long time and now it’s here it’s a funny feeling. I had no sleep last night, I’m nervous, I’m shaking and I feel sick.
Evelyn Mills, who lost her son Peter McDonnell in the disaster, said: “I do feel apprehensive but this is what I’ve campaigned for for 25 years. I’m feeling optimistic and brighter this time.
“There’s a different feel to it now and I’m really hopeful.”
Ninety six Liverpool FC supporters died in the tragedy which happened on April 15 1989 during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest as thousands of fans were crushed on the ground’s Leppings Lane terrace.
Verdicts of accidental death from the original Hillsborough inquest in March 1991 were quashed in December 2012, after the Hillsborough Independent Panel delivered its final report on the disaster earlier that year.
Before the lunch break Mr Justice Goldring told the jury: “This case, as you know, concerns the disaster at Hillsborough.
“It’s absolutely fundemental that you must put out of your minds anything you have have heard or read about Hillsborough.
“Do not do any research into Hillsborough whether on the internet or in any other way. Do not discuss the case with anyone. Do not say anything about the case on Facebook or Twitter or on any such site, it’s very important.”
He told the jurors they would be issued with a list of witnesses to ensure that they didn’t know any of them but said he wouldn’t read it out because it would take a ‘tremendously long time.’
Initally 1,000 potential jurors received summonses for the inquest.
That number was whittled down to 125 and eleven were selected today, along with ten reserves.
SEE THE STAR TOMORROW FOR FULL REPORT