Hillsborough: the decision to quash the accidental death verdicts

13 January 2013

On 19th December 2012 the Lord Chief Justice granted the Attorney General’s application to quash the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts. Mark George QC, in a blog for the Justice Gap, reflects on this development and where now for the Justice for the 96 families.

“Just like the assassination of JFK, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that sunny April afternoon. I was having a kick about in the park with my two young sons, themselves in their first season following Dad’€™s team, and we used to take a radio with us so we could listen to the commentary whilst we played football.”

“The Law relating to inquests has changed significantly since 1989. The effect of the decision in R (Middleton) v West Somerset Coroner [2004] AC 182 and the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 mean the new inquest will be far more wide-ranging in its scope than was the case at the original one. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires the state to provide an investigation capable of allowing the jury to express its views on the central factual issue in the case – something the first inquest conspicuously prevented the jury from doing.”

“Such has been the strength of the campaign for Justice for the 96 who died and such was the impact of the devastating conclusions of the Independent Panel’s report that there is no room for doubt as to the extent of the travesty of justice that was meted out at the original inquest, and it will take a foolish judge to rule out the most thorough and far reaching investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deaths.”

Mark George QC is a barrister and Head of Chambers at Garden Court North Chambers.

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