1. ITV Report

Hillsborough inquest verdicts quashed by High Court

File photo of Liverpool fans trying to escape severe overcrowding at Hillsborough. Photo: David Giles/PA Wire

The original Hillsborough inquest verdicts of accidental death have been quashed today by the High Court.

The victims' families said the ruling showed that "justice is on its way" for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's ground 23 years ago.

ITV News' Nina Nannar reports:

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London ordered fresh inquests following an application by the Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

Liverpool football club welcomed today's ruling, with managing director Ian Ayre calling it "another positive step forward".

On September 12, the world heard the real truth about what happened at Hillsborough which was a hugely significant and deeply emotional day for everyone.

Today, the High Court has quashed the original inquest verdicts which is another positive step forward for the families and survivors in their search for justice.

Everyone at Liverpool Football Club remains committed to supporting the fight for justice and we hope that every person affected by this can take some comfort from today's announcement.

– Ian Ayre, Managing Director of Liverpool Football Club

Lord Judge said each of those who died in the 1989 tragedy was a "helpless victim of this terrible event" and ruled it was in the interests of justice to hold a fresh inquest.

He said the "interests of justice must be served...however distressing the truth will be brought to light".

File photo of a man hanging a flag alongside other tributes placed on the Shankly Gates. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Referring to the victims' families, he said there had been a "profound, almost palpable belief that justice has not been done and that it cannot be done without and until the full truth is revealed".

We must record our admiration and respect for their determined search for the truth about the circumstances of the disaster and why and how it had occurred, which - despite disappointments and setbacks - has continued for nearly quarter of a century.

– Lord judge

After Lord Judge announced his decision, the court erupted in a loud round of applause and people started hugging and crying.

More than 40 families had made the journey to London for the hearing, while others watched by videolink from Liverpool.

Families of the victims visited a Hillsborough memorial at Anfield before travelling to London today. Credit: ITV News

Michelle Carlile, 44, clutching a photograph of her brother Paul, 19, who died at Hillsborough, said of the decision: "It is bitter-sweet. We have known the truth for 23 years."

James Saunders, managing director of Saunders Law Ltd, the solicitor who represents the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said:

After truth there must be justice, and the High Court's order for fresh inquests on the 96 who died opens the path to justice for the Hillsborough families.

Those who caused the deaths, concealed what happened, lied to the press and denigrated the victims to hide their own culpability may expect to be brought to account in court.

– James Saunders, managing director of Saunders Law Ltd

A new police investigation into the disaster was also announced today.

Home Secretary Theresa May said former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart will lead the new inquiry, which will focus specifically on the 96 deaths of Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf.

– theresa may, home secretary

Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit investigators and staff to his team, but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster.

I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.

My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.

I have held a number of meetings already and have been struck by the families' humility and steadfast determination to see justice delivered for their loved ones.

My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies.

– Jon Stoddart who will lead the new Hillsborough inquiry

The announcements were welcomed by Kenny Dalglish, who was Liverpool's manager during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough.

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