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The original verdict of accidental death has been squashed, twenty-two years after the original inquest into the 96 deaths of the Hillsborough Disaster.

This paved the way for new inquests to take place.

The Lord Chief Justice stated it was “inevitable” that new evidence about how the 96 victims died had made it “desirable and reasonable for a fresh inquest to be heard”.

Lord Judge said: "However distressing or unpalatable, the truth will be brought to light.

“In this way, the families of those who died in the disaster will be properly respected. Our earnest wish is the new inquest will not be delayed for a moment longer than necessary."

Fresh medical evidence revealed that 58 victims “definitely or probably” had a chance of survival beyond the 3.15pm cut-off point enforced by the original coroner. Cause of death remains unclear for a further 12 cases.

The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, said all families of the victims supported the application and that its “the essential basis” meant the original inquest was invalid.

The original inquest also raised question over the conduct of police and emergency services regarding sufficiency of inquiry and examination of evidence".

Talking about the new evidence, the Lord Chief Justice said: "in our judgment the 3.15pm cut-off point provided not only the most dramatic but also the most distressing aspect."

He said: "In short, the unchallenged evidence of pathologists at the Taylor inquiry and the subsequent inquest is no longer accepted."

The panel’s report also revealed how the police attempted to cover up their failure by changing statements and placing blame on the fans.

Michael Mansfield QC, acting on behalf of the families of the 63 victims, said: "New inquests are the only way in which the families can learn the truth about the circumstances in which their relatives died."

Jon Stoddart, the former Durham chief constable, will lead an inquiry that will focus on the 96 deaths of Liverpool fans that occurred at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989, stated the home secretary.

Theresa May, home secretary, said: "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."

"The findings of the Hillsborough independent panel were truly shocking, but while the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice.

"I am giving the IPCC new powers to investigate police misconduct, but this investigation will ensure no body with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.”

Stoddart will be allowed to recruit investigators and staff, but he will not be able to employ officers or former officers who have had any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster.

He has also been told he is not allowed to recruit any officers or former officers who worked in the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.

Stoddart said: "I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.

"My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.

"My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies."

Some of the families of victims, who have campaigned to have the verdicts overturned, were attending the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Image via Getty Images


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High Court quashes Hillsborough inquest verdicts as police announce new investigation
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