Hillsborough families want fresh inquiry

The families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster have called for a new inquest into the tragedy and could pursue their own legal action if necessary.

An independent report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed on Wednesday in a 396-page document that a police cover-up had taken place which had intended to shift blame for the events of April 15, 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, to the victims themselves.

The report also found that as many as 41 of the fans who died in the crush at the Leppings Lane end of the ground could have been saved after 3:15pm, the controversial cut-off point for admissible evidence laid down in the original inquest conducted by Dr Stefan Popper.

Lord Justice Taylor's report in 1989 ruled that "failure in police control" was the main cause of the disaster, but he did not have access to many of the documents seen as part of the new report.

Prime Minister David Cameron stated in his public apology in parliament that it was up to attorney general Dominic Grieve to decide whether a new inquest into the disaster was necessary in light of the new evidence.

The original inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death, which was found to be questionable by the latest report which involved more than 400,000 pages of government and emergency service documents.

Michael Mansfield QC, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), said: "If David Cameron means what he says and justice has to follow truth, then they have a responsibility today to assess not just the question of unlawful killing but the cover-up and the perversion of the course of justice."

It could be possible for South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield Wednesday FC and the city's council to be charged with corporate manslaughter for their part in what the Hillsborough Independent Panel called "multiple failures" of several organisations involved.

Trevor Hicks, the chairman of the HSFG, said that the group would pursue legal action against those involved at South Yorkshire Police and elsewhere if the state does not.

Hicks, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough, told BBC's Newsnight programme: "If I come back to David Cameron's statement [to MPs], he said quite categorically that the state had let us down.

"So we will give the state the opportunity to put that right.

"But if it looks as though they're not going to do that, then we will do as we've done before and we'll take it out of their hands."

A private prosecution has previously been sought by the victims' families in 2000, but chief superintendent David Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray were found not guilty of counts of manslaughter, misconduct and perverting the course of justice. 

The Football Association have commended the Hillsborough Independent Panel for their "exhaustive and professional work" and highlighted the improvements in safety at grounds following the disaster 23 years ago.

The FA said on Thursday: "Having thoroughly reviewed yesterday's report in full, The Football Association would like to commend the Hillsborough Independent Panel for their exhaustive and professional work. It is also important that The FA recognises the tireless commitment shown by so many, particularly the Hillsborough Family Support Group."

Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the families of those affected on Wednesday, stressing to the House of Commons that the findings had shown fans were not at fault.

The FA statement went on: "We welcome the publication of the report and the subsequent comments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

"The FA reiterates its deep and ongoing sadness at the dreadful events that unfolded on 15 April 1989.

"The organisation's thoughts at this time remains with the families of all those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances, as well as everyone connected with the City of Liverpool. For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain, and we have profound sympathy for this.

"The FA has co-operated fully with the Panel throughout this process and has released all documentation in line with their request.

"The FA and English football has changed immeasurably, and has learnt many lessons in the last 23 years. Through advancements in safety and investment in facilities English football is now a much safer, more welcoming environment for supporters."