High Court overturns Hillsborough ‘accidental death’ verdicts
James Saunders comments re Hillsborough inquest verdicts quashed by High Court [Daily Mirror, December 2012]
Quashed: High Court overturns Hillsborough 'accidental death' verdicts
19 Dec 2012
The original inquest verdicts on the deaths of the 96 innocent victims of the 1989 disaster have been quashed today.
The campaign for justice for the 96 innocent victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster scored another landmark victory today, as the High Court quashed the original inquest verdicts.
The decision comes as the Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new police investigation into the disaster.
The Press association reports that the High Court has quashed the original accidental death inquest verdicts returned after 96 Liverpool football fans died in the crush at Hillsborough 23 years ago.
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London ordered fresh inquests following an application by the Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
The PA report continues: The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said there were "good grounds" for the application made by Mr Grieve.
Lord Judge described what happened in 1989 as "catastrophic".
Respect for campaigning families
Referring to the families, Lord Judge said there had been a "profound, almost palpable belief that justice has not been done and that it cannot be done without and until the full truth is revealed".
He said: "We must record our admiration and respect for their determined search for the truth about the circumstances of the disaster and why and how it had occurred, which - despite disappointments and setbacks - has continued for nearly quarter of a century."
After Lord Judge announced the decision of the court, families in the packed courtroom greeted it with a loud round of applause.
More than 40 families had made the journey to London for the hearing, while others watched by videolink from Liverpool.
When giving the ruling, Lord Judge expressed regret that the process the families had gone through over the years since the disaster had been "so unbearingly dispiriting and prolonged".
"We have known the truth for 23 years"
Responding to the decision to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts and the announcement that a fresh police investigation is to be held into the disaster, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: "This is a watershed moment on the road to justice for the families of the 96, and I share their overwhelming relief that, after 23 very painful years, the inquest verdicts have been quashed.
"It is the only right and proper decision that the High Court could make in the wake of the overwhelming and compelling evidence uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
"We must all keep up the pressure that has driven the momentum over the last few months to make sure that the families get the justice they deserve.
"I also welcome the new police investigation, which we all hope will result in those that played a role in causing the disaster and the monumental cover-up are brought to account."
Lord Judge said each of those who died in the tragedy was a "helpless victim of this terrible event".
He ruled that it was in the interests of justice to hold a fresh inquest.
He said the "interests of justice must be served" - "however distressing the truth will be brought to light".
Michelle Carlile, 44, clutching a photograph of her brother Paul, 19, who died at Hillsborough, said of today's decision: "It is bitter-sweet. We have known the truth for 23 years."
"After truth there must be justice"
James Saunders, managing director of Saunders Law Ltd, the solicitor who represents the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: "After truth there must be justice, and the High Court's order for fresh inquests on the 96 who died opens the path to justice for the Hillsborough families.
"Those who caused the deaths, concealed what happened, lied to the press and denigrated the victims to hide their own culpability may expect to be brought to account in court."
Trevor Hicks, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, spoke of his delight at the decision to quash the inquest verdicts.
Speaking outside London's Royal Courts of Justice, he said: "Justice is on its way.
"Everything we've said has been proven to be correct."
Mr Hicks went on: "We're obviously delighted.
"Now I think it's important to say as well, the actual text of the judgment, we couldn't have written it better if we'd written it ourselves.
"The Lord Chief Justice, I think he used the term 'vindicated' yet again, so I think it is clear that justice is on its way.
"We could come out with something like a small step for mankind, but it's a huge step for the families of the loved ones, so it's a happier Christmas."
New inquests to be "established quickly"
The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, said: "The victims' families and survivors of the Hillsborough tragedy have seen their cause take another important step forward today.
"I will now do everything I can to help to get new inquests established quickly.
"I have received a request from the Doncaster and Bradford Coroners for a judge to be appointed to conduct these inquests and I am today asking the Lord Chief Justice to make a recommendation to me on suitable candidates as soon as possible."