Hillsborough lawyers welcome new inquests and police investigation

Lawyers for the Hillsborough victims’ families will lobby for a top prosecutor to work on the new police inquiry into the 1989 disaster.


Hillsborough
Hillsborough

Speaking after the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge ordered fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 people, James Saunders of Saunders Law, called for accountability.

Saunders is part of the legal team representing the families of the Hillsborough victims. It includes Charlie Falconer of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Marcia Willis-Stewart of Birnberg Peirce & Partners and Michael Mansfield QC of Tooks Chambers.

Following an application from the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Judge LCJ quashed the original inquest verdicts today on the basis of new medical evidence uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report, which that established many of those who died could have been saved (20 September 2012).

Saunders 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.”

Justice secretary Chris Grayling said a judge will be appointed to conduct the inquests after he seeks recommendations from Judge LCJ.

At the same time, home secretary Theresa May announced a new police inquiry into the disaster, to run alongside the IPCC investigation into allegations of a cover up (12 October 2012).

The new police inquiry will also examine the authorities that were responsible for safety at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium that the IPCC does not have the powers to investigate.

The new police inquiry will be led by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart.

The home secretary also said that the IPCC and CPS are establishing an “independent challenge panel” that will inform and advise the investigations and the work of the CPS and will allow families and ther lawyers to make representations during the inquiry process.

Saunders said: “This is a fairly novel concept and we’ll need to have some discussion among ourselves about who should be put forward and what the rules of engagement should be.”

Saunders is pushing for an independent prosecutor – a senior former judge – to oversee the investigations on behalf of the victims’ families.

He said he would be speaking to the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer in January to make recommendations on who the independent prosecutor should be.