New Hillsborough probe opened

2012-12-19 13:42

London - Britain on Wednesday announced a new police investigation into the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

The announcement follows a damning report from an independent panel that alleged police tried to divert blame for the tragedy on to the victims.

The inquiry is to be led by former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart and will look at the events of an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield's Hillsborough Stadium 23 years ago.

"I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf," said British Home Secretary Theresa May.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Dominic Grieve asked the High Court Wednesday to quash the verdicts of accidental death that were returned in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy so that new inquests can be held.

Grieve made his application in a crowded London courtroom in front of more than 40 family members who lost loved ones in the disaster.

Other victims' relatives were watching the proceedings via video-link from a court in Liverpool.

The court was told that the application would not be opposed.

But Grieve said it was still necessary for him to explain the reasons behind the move because of the "intense public interest" in the case.

The fatal crush was caused by huge overcrowding in a terrace at the Leppings Lane End of Hillsborugh Stadium and caused the match to be abandoned.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel report published in September said that 41 of the 96 people who died would have had the "potential to survive" if they had received medical treatment more quickly.

It also said that 164 police statements had been changed, 116 of them to remove or alter "unfavourable" accounts about the police's handling of the crisis.

Relatives of the dead have battled for years to have the verdicts of accidential death overturned.

In England, inquests are held to examine sudden or unexplained deaths. They set out to determine the place and time of death as well as how the deceased came by their death, but do not apportion blame.