Announcement

Attorney General applies for fresh inquests for victims of Hillsborough disaster

An application has been made to the High Court for new inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims.

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, today (10 December 2012) made an application to the High Court for new inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.

The Attorney General 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.

The application aims to meet tests set out in Section 13 of the Coroners Act, the most relevant of which are the discovery of new facts or evidence and that it is necessary or desirable in the interests of justice that new inquests should be held.

The principal ground for the application is the new medical evidence. The alteration to police and emergency services evidence is a supporting factor, as is stadium safety.

The views of the families were sought before filing this application. All support the quashing of the inquests and the ordering of new ones. The coroners for South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire (in the case of Anthony Bland) were also contacted and support the application.

The court will now fix a date for hearing. The timing of this is a matter for the court.

Background

  • Additional analysis for this application was provided by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, a member of the Hillsborough Panel, and Professor Jack Crane, a forensic pathologist and State Pathologist for Northern Ireland.

  • The intention to apply for fresh inquests was announced on 16 October 2012.

  • The Attorney General takes decisions on whether to apply to the High Court for an inquest as part of his public interest function, independently of government and strictly on the basis of the evidence.

  • He has no power to order a new coronial inquest. A new inquest can only be ordered by the High Court on an application made either by the Attorney General or by a third party with the consent of the Attorney General. But before any such application can be made, the Attorney General has to be satisfied that he has sufficient evidence in an admissible form, to persuade the Court that the test set out in section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 is met.

  • If the Court quashes the original inquests and orders fresh inquests to be heard, its powers under section 13 application are limited to referring the cases back to administrative district in which they were originally heard. In 95 of the cases this means that in the first instance the cases must be sent back to Sheffield or Doncaster (Doncaster being the other coroner in that administrative district). In the light of the concerns of the families, the Attorney will suggest that the Court should return the cases to Doncaster. Where the inquests are in fact heard will then be a matter for the coronial process.

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