1. ITV Report

Hillsborough inquests can now take place anywhere in UK

Tributes outside the gates next to the Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield. Photo: PA ARCHIVE

Coroners are no longer restricted to holding inquests within their own districts following a change in the law, meaning the forthcoming Hillsborough inquiry could be held anywhere in England and Wales.

Hillsborough victims' relatives have spoken out against the fresh inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans being held in Sheffield - site of the disaster and where the original overturned inquest was held.

But a change to the Coroners Act 1988 will mean inquests can be held at different locations in England and Wales, if it is in the best interest of the bereaved family and others, such as witnesses.

Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman Trevor Hicks said the venue of the inquest was "important" to the relatives of victims and has been discussed extensively.

Mr Hicks, who lost his two daughters, 19-year-old Sarah and 15-year-old Victoria, said: "We have been vociferously vocal in that we didn't want the inquest to be held in Sheffield."

He added: "It's nothing against Sheffield, per se. But it didn't serve us well on the last occasion."

A number of locations are likely to be discussed by the support group, but may be met with difficulties for a variety of reasons, including Liverpool, Manchester and London.

"At the end of the day, the final influence lies with the coroner," Mr Hicks said. "We would expect to be consulted. It's important to the bereaved families."

The change to the Coroner's Act is part of a series of reforms by the Ministry of Justice to the coroner system.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: "The anguish of losing a loved one in circumstances that require an inquest is unimaginably heartbreaking for any family.

"We want to ensure inquests can happen without unnecessary delays so families can find closure.

"That is why I am granting coroners the power to move inquests - at their discretion - to the most suitable location. This will bring about greater flexibility, more timely hearings and some relief to families."

The fresh inquest into the Hillsborough disaster was ordered when a panel of three High Court judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, quashed the original accidental death verdicts.

The Liverpool supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15 1989, where their team was playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

A damning report laying bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims was published last September.

A new police investigation, as well as an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are also being conducted.