Hillsborough disaster inquests set for 2014

25 April 2013 03:17

Fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 football supporters in England's 1989 Hillsborough disaster will be held in early 2014, the coroner presiding announced Thursday.

Lord Justice John Goldring, making his opening statement at a pre-inquest hearing at the High Court in London, told relatives of the victims that the inquests would not amount to a trial.

But he said they would seek to bring the full facts to light and bring any "culpable or discreditable conduct" to public notice.

The 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield, northern England, in April 1989. It was the worst sporting disaster in British history.

The fatal crush was caused by huge overcrowding on a terrace before an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

In December, the High Court in London quashed accidental death verdicts delivered in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and called for fresh inquests to be held, while police also launched a new investigation.

The move followed the publication of a damning independent report in September that concluded that 41 of those who died would have had the "potential to survive" if they had received medical treatment more quickly.

"The purpose of these inquests is to examine fully and fairly how each of these victims of this terrible disaster lost his or her life," Goldring said.

"The inquests will seek to ensure so far as possible that the full facts are brought to light; that any culpable or discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice.

"However, it should not be forgotten that an inquest is a fact-finding investigation.

"It is not a method of apportioning guilt.

"There are no parties, no indictment, no prosecution and no defence.

"In other words, an inquest is not a trial but an inquiry to establish facts."

The original inquests were held in Sheffield and relatives of the deceased are split as to where the new inquests should be held, with some preferring London and others wanting somewhere closer to Liverpool in northwest England.

Goldring said the venue would be confirmed next week.

Source: AFP