The families and friends of the 96 Hillsborough victims were celebrating last night, as a new police investigation was launched into the tragedy and fresh inquests were ordered by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge after the original inquest verdicts were quashed.
Yesterday’s development follows the resignation of former West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison, who quit in the wake of a damning report that laid bare official attempts to shift the blame on to the Liverpool fans at the ground on 15 April 1989.
Sir Norman, who was serving with the South Yorkshire force at the time, is already being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as part of its inquiry into officers’ conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.
The announcement followed a report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that found there were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and up to 41 fans could have survived.
It also found that former South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright and his officers, with the help of local Tory MP Irvine Patnick, sought to cover up the failures.
Home Secretary Theresa May said former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart would lead the new inquiry. He will principally investigate the deaths at Hillsborough and the people and agencies outside the police watchdog’s remit, while the IPCC will examine officers’ conduct in the aftermath.
Neither investigation will be able to employ officers with a prior connection to Hillsborough, or any who have worked in the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside forces.
Trevor Hicks, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, who lost his daughters Sarah and Victoria in the disaster, urged all agencies in the investigation to work together.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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