Hillsborough families step closer to justice as death verdicts quashed
Published 20/12/2012 | 05:00
Stony-faced, eyes watering, they sat among the splendour of the Royal Courts of Justice listening yet again to the "gruesome carnage" of the day 96 of their relatives were crushed to death at Hillsborough football stadium.
Some cradled their heads in their hands in the hush of the court as Britain's Attorney General Dominic Grieve argued that it was time to order new inquests. When their "bittersweet" victory came, the celebration escalated slowly – a smattering of smiles, then respectful applause, a few hugs followed by tears.
Yesterday, as the British Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a fresh police investigation, the country's most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, quashed the original inquest verdicts of accidental death and ordered a new coronial investigation to be launched as swiftly as possible.
"The interests of justice must be served," said Lord Judge. "However distressing, the truth will be brought to light."
More than 100 relatives ignored the opportunity to watch events by video link from Liverpool and rose in the early hours of yesterday morning to make the journey to the High Court in London. When the numbers made it impossible for them all to be in court and some were diverted to a video link nearby, Lord Judge himself personally visited them to apologise for the fact they were in a separate court.
Stephen Kelly, whose 38-year-old brother Michael perished that day, one of more than half who might have been saved with swift medical attention, said: "It is overwhelming, a very bittersweet moment and quite a bit to take in. It is a fabulous day, after all the hard work we have done."
Commenting on Ms May's announcement of a new police inquiry led by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart, which could trigger criminal prosecutions, he added: "If anyone is guilty, now is the time for them to have sleepless nights, as we have had for over 23 years." (© Independent News Service)