Tears as Hillsborough dead named at inquests
01 April 2014, 20:13
London - Relatives wept Tuesday as the names of the 96 Liverpool football supporters who died in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium crush were read out in court.
Lord Justice John Goldring, the coroner presiding, said Britain's worst sporting disaster was "seared into the memories" of everyone affected by it, as he gave an opening statement at the start of new inquests into the deaths.
In emotional scenes before the jury was sworn in, relatives quietly sobbed as the names of the deceased were slowly read out over six minutes.
The hearings, taking place at a purpose-built court on a business park outside Warrington, east of Liverpool, are expected to last 12 months.
New inquests were ordered after the original coroner's verdicts were quashed by the High Court in December 2012 amid claims of a police cover-up.
That came three months after an independent panel examining the disaster concluded that 41 of those who died would have had the "potential to survive" if they had received medical treatment more quickly.
Fans were crushed to death on an overcrowded terrace at an FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest, staged on April 15, 1989 at Hillsborough in Sheffield.
Goldring told the seven women and four men of the jury that in conducting fresh inquests, "we are not concerned with whether what was decided at the previous inquiries was right or wrong".
"You will, I anticipate, have to consider the underlying circumstances which contributed to the cause of these deaths, whether opportunities were lost which might have prevented the deaths or saved lives."
He added: "While searching fearlessly for the truth, we should avoid this hearing degenerating into the kind of adversarial battle which looking back on it scarred the original inquests."
Briefly outlining the events of the day, he said: "Around the time of the kick-off, a terrible crush developed in two pens" in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, "where the Liverpool fans were standing.
"The pressure in the pens built up. Many of those in the pens suffered terrible crushing injuries."
The inquest will not sit in the week of the 25th anniversary later this month.
Goldring warned that witnesses' memories "will inevitably have faded" in the years since the disaster.
Inquests set out simply to determine the circumstances of how the deceased came by their deaths. They do not apportion blame.