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October 23, 2012 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson

 

 

Nothing should be allowed to get in the way of the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims in their search for justice. They have battled for more than 23 years to have the truth acknowledged and as parliament debates the independent panel’s report, it is vital that pressure is maintained on the government and on the courts.
 
I am writing this before the debate in parliament. However, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieves' has already announced that he will apply to the High Court for fresh inquests into the deaths of all 96 victims. Gaining new inquests is the top priority for the families. 

 

At the original inquests the coroner decided that all victims must have been dead by 3.15pm, despite evidence that many were still alive, including 15 year old Kevin Williams from Formby whose mum Anne previously applied to have the verdict overturned and was turned down by the courts. The fact that the Attorney General is convinced that he can succeed in having the verdicts overturned in the courts this time shows how right Anne and the other families have been all along. 
The independent panel has found evidence that at least 41 of the victims may have still been alive at 3.15 and there is evidence that that number may be higher.
 
The decision to have a cut off at 3.15 has meant that evidence about the emergency response has not been fully examined. As the independent panel says in Chapter 4 of its report summary: “The emergency response to the Hillsborough disaster has not previously been fully examined, because of the assumption that the outcome for those who died was irretrievably fixed long before they could have been helped.”
 
A new inquest will allow a new coroner to consider all the evidence and to decide why the 96 died. A different verdict would show that the victims died as a result of the failings of the police and other authorities and would allow the families the comfort of official recognition at last of how and why their loved ones died.
 
The Home Secretary is also likely to announce the appointment of a special prosecutor so that any criminal prosecutions do not drag on any longer than necessary. This is the least that can be done after the 23 year wait by the families.
 
He or she will explore possible criminal charges – whether manslaughter, relating to the original tragedy, or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, following the exposé of the cover-up.

I'd like to congratulate the families, including Barry Devonside from Formby, Paul and Rose Robinson from Crosby and Maureen and Philip Jones from Maghull. The families, the survivors and their supporters have shown tremendous dignity, restraint and perseverance in the face of a catalogue of smears from the press and cover up by the establishment.

MPs who represent the families have all pledged to continue the fight alongside the families until new coroners’ verdicts are delivered and until those responsible for the deaths of the 96 and the cover up which followed are all held to account for what they have done.

 

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