20 Dec 2012

Government to fund legal bill for Hillsborough families

The Government will fund legal representation for the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster at the planned new inquests into their deaths.

Government to fund legal bill for Hillsborough families

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley today confirmed the legal funding following a ruling yesterday that a new inquest into 96 Hillsborough deaths is necessary.

The High Court quashed the verdict of accidental death returned after supporters died in the crush at the stadium in Sheffield 23 years ago.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, stated that the deaths of Liverpool supporters at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium remained a source of anguish and grief to those to whom they were precious.

Lord Judge explained that their suffering had been increased as within a very short period after the disaster “it was being peddled about that this disaster was one more consequence of mindless hooliganism”.

There Judge claimed there were “rumours, gossip and deliberate misinformation” that the disaster was attributable to the drunken behaviour of the fans and “the Liverpool fans in particular”.

Decisions to test the blood-alcohol levels of fans suggested to suffering families that it was the victims who had contributed to the disaster but many had consumed no alcohol and others had consumed only normal amounts.

Referring to the verdicts of accidental death at the original inquest, the judge said: “Throughout there has been a profound, almost palpable, belief that justice has not been done.”

The judge praised the Hillsborough independent panel which uncovered fresh evidence after examining thousands of pages of documents from 84 organisations and individuals.

In the original inquest evidence suggested the deceased had all suffered severe injuries that caused their deaths before 3.15pm, the coroner ruled no evidence of what happened after 3.15pm would be heard.

The judge now says there is ample evidence suggesting the 3.15pm cut-off was “seriously flawed” and raised the question whether the deceased included those who could have been saved if properly treated.

The first inquest was also said to be unaware of the extent of “reprehensible alterations made to the statements of police officers to conceal evidence critical of the South Yorkshire Police operation at the ground”.