Court date set for bid to quash Hillsborough disaster verdicts

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC.
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AN APPLICATION by the Attorney General to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts, after 96 Liverpool football fans died in a crush in 1989, is due to be heard at the High Court next week, the Judicial Office said today.

The application is listed to be heard on Wednesday by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London – subject to any applications by ‘interested parties’ to adjourn.

A Judicial Office spokesman said: “The Attorney General’s application to quash the Hillsborough inquest verdicts has been listed for a substantive hearing before the Divisional Court on Wednesday, subject to any applications by interested parties to adjourn.

“The Lord Chief Justice, sitting with two other judges, will hear the application.”

Families of the 96 victims of the 1989 tragedy have campaigned to have the accidental death verdicts overturned.

The move by Dominic Grieve comes after a damning report into the disaster 23 years ago laid bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.

Mr Grieve announced in October he would make an application to the High Court for fresh inquests after beginning a review of the evidence.

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on Saturday, April 15, 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

* New laws giving extra powers to the police watchdog investigating the Hillsborough disaster and cover-up are set to become law after clearing Parliament.

The legislation was passed by MPs last week and was agreed by the House of Lords following a fast-track procedure.

Ministers say the new powers are essential to remedy the injustice, uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report published earlier this year, suffered by the victims of the 1989 disaster.

The actions of up to 2,400 serving or retired officers could be considered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation – the watchdog’s biggest ever inquiry.

The Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill, which has cross-party support, will enable the IPCC to compel serving officers or staff on other police bodies to attend an interview.

It will also have the ability to reinvestigate matters already considered by its predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority, in “exceptional circumstances”.

Introducing the legislation, Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said: “The Bill before the House today is essential to achieve justice for the 96 innocent men, women and children who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster.

“This short Bill provides the IPCC with the tools it needs to and marks one step further along the road to justice for the victims of Hillsborough. All who support this aim will, I’m sure, support this Bill.”

For Labour, Baroness Smith of Basildon said the tragedy had been compounded and amplified by the later cover-up and altering of statements taken by the police about what happened on the day of the disaster.

Lady Smith said the quest for justice had been “hard fought” but due to the tenacity and dedication of the bereaved families, the “truth will out”.