Fresh inquest – Attorney General applying for order quashing original inquests into Hillsborough disaster

Attorney General v HM Coroner of South Yorkshire (West): Queen's Bench Division, Divisional Court: 19 December 2012

In April 1989, there was a tragedy at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs where 95 spectators died and many more were injured (the Hillsborough disaster). Inquests (the inquests) were held by the defendant coroner at which a verdict of accidental death was recorded in respect of all of the deceased.

In September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel delivered its report on the Hillsborough disaster (the report). The report highlighted considerable new evidence which had not been considered by the inquest. The attorney general applied pursuant to section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 to quash the inquests and direct that fresh inquests be held. The principal issue that fell to be determined was whether the interests of justice made further inquests either necessary or desirable. The application would be allowed.

It was elementary that fresh evidence which might shed further light on the cause of death of the individuals concerned would normally make a new inquest both necessary and desirable. It was not necessary that court anticipate a different verdict for a fresh inquest to be desirable.

In the instant case, it was clear that there were a number of features of the new evidence which cast new light on the circumstances in which the deceased met their end. Accordingly, fresh inquests were necessary.