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December 19, 2012 3:30 pm
A fresh police inquiry is to begin into the Hillsborough disaster, as families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989 won their long battle to have the original inquest verdicts of accidental death quashed.
Theresa May, home secretary, said that Jon Stoddart, former chief constable of Durham Police, who will lead the investigation, would ensure that “nobody with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny”.
Mr Stoddart will work alongside the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is examining police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.
David Cameron, prime minister, apologised to the bereaved families in September after the Hillsborough Independent Panel found many lives could have been saved and that the police falsely accused fans of misbehaviour to deflect attention from its own failings.
Relatives of those who died were in the High Court to witness Lord Justice Judge agree to the request for fresh inquests from Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general. The application was unopposed.
The coroner of the original inquests in 1990 had imposed a cut-off time of 3.15pm for examining evidence from the day of the disaster, such as the response times of emergency services, saying none of victims had survived beyond that point.
But the attorney-general presented new medical evidence suggesting 58 fans “definitely” or “probably” could have survived beyond then, while the cause of death was unclear in a further 12 cases.
“The families have each been denied the opportunity for a thorough inquiry at the inquests into whether earlier intervention could have averted the fatal outcome,” Mr Grieve said.
The new inquests will be conducted by a judge.
Trevor Hicks, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “Justice is on its way. Everything we’ve said has been proven to be correct.”
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