In September we came a step nearer to achieving justice for the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. This followed the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool –
This report was always going to be the start of a long process which will eventually lead us to the truth about why 96 football fans died on 15th April 1989.
One of the biggest question marks from the original investigations related to the coroner’s inquest which found that none of the victims had survived after 3.15 pm. This finding had a huge influence on all that followed. It was a finding that was always disputed by the families and by many independent observers. It was a finding that was finally discredited by publication of the report.
I can still remember my jaw dropping as I heard the panel’s medical adviser say that 58 fans could well have survived after 3.15. This undermined the inquest findings and all other decisions that flowed from it.
Today in London the High Court, following an application by the Attorney General, has quashed the original inquests. Fresh hearings will now follow. The Lord Chief Justice specifically referred to - "deliberate misinformation surrounding the disaster".
This has been one of the worst and most damaging cover ups that I can recall; damaging to the emergency services, damaging to our justice system and damaging to the families who have had to fight for over 23 years for the truth. Those families have often been criticized in the media and have fought against all the odds. The judge paid a particular tribute to their fight saying he wished to record - "our admiration and respect for their determined search for the truth about the disaster and why and how it had occurred, which - despite disappointments and setbacks - has continued for nearly quarter of a century."
It is encouraging that the Home Secretary has also announced a new inquiry into the disaster and has talked openly about securing ‘justice for the 96 football fans.’
The truth has been a long time coming. And there is still much to do. But hopefully we have now moved a significant step nearer.