Hillsborough case goes into extra time

The case of the four members of the South Yorkshire Police Force who claimed damages over mental trauma they claimed they suffered as a result of involvement in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in April 1989 may now go to the House of Lords.

Three Law Lords have already considered an application by the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire for leave to appeal against last October's Court of Appeal ruling that the four policemen concerned were entitled to damages for mental shock.

But they have now put the application on hold and invited the police at the centre of the claim to lodge any objections they wish to make against the Chief Constable's appeal moves. Those objections had to be lodged by 24 March.

The case is one which has already made legal history. Fourteen police received a total of £1.2m agreed damages from South Yorkshire Police's insurers, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club and the club's engineers.

But the claim by the four at the centre of the current moves, Inspector Henry White and PCs Edward Bairstow, Anthony Bevis and Geoffrey Glave, was contested on the basis they were not close enough to the actual scene of the tragedy.

When the matter initially went to the High Court in April 1995 Mr Justice Waller found that South Yorkshire Police Force did not owe any duty of care to the police officers who had claimed damages.

However, last October two of the country's senior judges, Lords Justice Rose and Henry, overturned that decision and ruled that the South Yorkshire Police Force had owed a duty of care to its members and that there had been a breach of its duty to them.