Hillsborough Inquest details

The families of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster are to learn about the plans for fresh inquests into their deaths. The original verdicts were quashed. 41 of those who died in the tragedy in 1989 might have been saved.

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Location and timescale of new Hillsborough inquests debated (continued)

But Pete Weatherby QC, who represents around 17 families, said his clients want the inquests held in the North of England.

He said: "In terms of venue, the families I represent are vehemently against the inquests being held more than 200 miles from their homes."

He added: "We say, in essence, that the inquests should be held as close as reasonably possible to where the bereaved families live."

Mr Weatherby said he agreed that Manchester would not be suitable due to its historic rivalry with Liverpool.

However, he said it was "wrong" to rule out the whole of the North West, including places such as Chester, Crewe and Warrington.

"Without being flippant - the North does have the internet, it does have hotels and an excellent transport network."

He went on: "If the inquests are to be held far away from where the bereaved families live, they will be deprived to some extent from engaging with the proceedings."

He said some will find the process "traumatic" and will want to "return to the heart of their support network at the end of each day".

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Location and timescale of new Hillsborough inquests debated

Michael Mansfield
Michael Mansfield QC is representing the Hillsborough Family Support Group Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive/PA

Michael Mansfield QC, who represents 71 families from the Hillsborough Family Support group, said any delay caused by letting other investigations conclude was "simply out of the question".

He urged the judge to fix a date around the second week of January 2014 for the full inquests' start.

Even if that date is not fixed, setting a date is key, he said, as it "concentrates the mind".

Mr Mansfield said the families he represents want the inquests to be held in London after long discussions about the location.

"What was of interest was a genuine desire to locate somewhere that was above any suggestion of bias particularly one way or the other," he said.

He added that there was "a legacy" arising from Hillsborough and football.

He said animosity and rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester meant the inquests should not be held 25 miles down the M62 motorway in Manchester as some people have suggested.

The barrister said one of the large rooms in Westminster's Central Hall would be ideal and had housed previous inquiries such as the Bloody Sunday hearing when it sat in London.

A live link-up with Liverpool could be set up for those who could not travel to the capital, he added.

Coroner's promise to Hillsborough families

Lord Justice Goldring
Lord Justice Goldring Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The coroner presiding over the new Hillsborough inquests today promised families of the 96 victims his hearings would try to expose "any culpable or discreditable conduct".

Lord Justice Goldring, making his opening statement at a pre-inquest hearing, reassured families the proceedings would be transparent.

About 40 families travelled from Liverpool to London's Principal Registry of the Family Division.

He told them: "The purpose of these inquests is to examine fully and fairly how each of these victims of this terrible disaster lost his or her life.

"The inquests will seek to ensure so far as possible that the full facts are brought to light; that any culpable or discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice.

"However, it should not be forgotten that an inquest is a fact-finding investigation.

"It is not a method of apportioning guilt.

"There are no parties, no indictment, no prosecution and no defence.

"In other words, an inquest is not a trial but an inquiry to establish facts."

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