New police investigation into Hillsborough disaster announced at High Court hearing
A new police investigation into the Hillsborough disaster has been announced.
Last Updated: 19/12/12 12:18pm
The investigation will be led by former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart and will focus specifically on the 96 deaths of the Liverpool fans in April 1989.
Mr Stoddart will work closely with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.
Home Secretary Theresa May spoke at the High Court hearing on Wednesday, saying: "The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were truly shocking, but while the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice.
"Jon Stoddart is a skilled and dedicated investigator who will bring a huge amount of policing experience to this demanding job.
"I am giving the IPCC new powers to investigate police misconduct, but this investigation will ensure no body with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.
"I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf."
Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit investigators and staff to his team, but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster.
He is also unable to recruit any officers or former officers who worked in the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.
Mr Stoddart will also work closely with the previously announced Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.
He said: "I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.
"My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.
"I have held a number of meetings already and have been struck by the families' humility and steadfast determination to see justice delivered for their loved ones.
"My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies."
The High Court had been asked to quash the original accidental death inquest verdicts after a new government report accused South Yorkshire Police of a cover-up that blamed the Liverpool supporters for the disaster.
An application by Attorney General Dominic Grieve was heard by the Lord Chief Justice and two other judges, with families of the 1989 tragedy attending the hearing at the Royal Courts in central London.
The Liverpool supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, where they played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.
Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram, one of a number of MPs planning to attend the proceedings, said in a statement: "The High Court hearing is the day that the families have fought almost a quarter of a century for.
"The opportunity to quash the original inquest verdicts of accidental death seemed like an impossible task for 23 years. It is the moment they have waited over two decades for.
"My hope is that the overwhelming evidence that was uncovered in the Hillsborough Independent Panel report will be enough to emphatically prove that Hillsborough was not an accident.
"The wheels of justice turn slowly in Britain but they are beginning to gather momentum.
"This is just the beginning of a process that will see one of the greatest injustices in the last century put right and those really responsible for Hillsborough held to account."