31 Mar 2014

Hillsborough families hope for ‘the beginning of the end’

Relatives of the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster arrive for long-awaited new inquests, hoping that “every stone is unturned”.

Hillsborough inquests

Margaret Aspinall, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group said outside the inquests, which are being held in Warrington, that she hopes this is the “beginning of the end” (see video, below).

Ms Aspinall lost her son James, aged 18, at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. “My hopes at the end of this is that the families will have some peace,” she said.

Charlotte Hennessy, who lost her father James Robert Hennessy in the disaster when she was six years old, said: “It’s finally here. I don’t know if excited is the right word to use, but finally we’re here and it’s going to happen.

“I’m really, really nervous. It’s been a long, long fight.”

New inquests are taking place after “accidental death” verdicts from the original Hillsborough inquests were quashed in 2012.

The quashing of those original verdicts came after a long-campaign from the families of the Hillsborough dead, and a report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Much of Monday is expected to be taken up with jury selection. There will be opening statements from the coroner and the families this week, with background “pen portraits” of all the victims being presented to the court over the next month.

Jurors will also make a site visit to Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium, the site of the disaster, but will be directed not to read the “deeply moving” tributes on the memorial to the tragedy.

The 96 football fans died at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 when fans were crushed together on the ground’s Leppings Lane terrace.