Video evidence shot by police during the Hillsborough disaster may have been tampered with, a coroner heard.
Pete Weatherby QC, representing a group of victims’ families, told a pre-inquest hearing the handheld footage might have been edited before it was handed over to an expert.
He asked coroner Lord Justice John Goldring for an audiovisual specialist to be among those giving evidence at new inquests into the 96 victims’ deaths next year, to ensure the best available footage is shown to the jury.
Britain’s worst sporting disaster happened at Sheffield’ Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium in April 1989, during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, as thousands of fans were crushed on the ground’s Leppings Lane terrace.
Last December, verdicts of accidental death from the original Hillsborough inquests in March 1991 were quashed after files held by organisations for more than 20 years were made public – and revealed a cover up aimed at shifting blame for the disaster from South Yorkshire Police on to fans.
The pre-inquest hearing was told jurors are likely to be taken to Hillsborough when the inquests start in order to give them a better knowledge of how the disaster unfolded.
Lord Justice Goldring reassured relatives he was ‘committed’ to starting the inquests in Warrington on March 31.
Before proceedings started, victims’ relatives said that, after waiting 25 years for ‘justice’, they would be opposed to any delays.
The hearing was told the volume of material involved in the inquest was ‘unprecedented in terms of scale and complexity’ and new documents could become available up until the start of the inquests because investigations into the disaster were still ongoing.
He said: “I shall not cease, so it is absolutely clear, to seek to drive these investigations on as much as I conceivably can.”
Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, also revealed a report into whether lives could have been saved if emergency services had acted differently would be considered .
The inclusion of such evidence represents a major shift from the original 1991 inquests, which established no victims could have survived if they sustained injuries before a 3.15pm cut-off point.