Supporters hold up a banner in memory of victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool
Supporters hold up a banner in memory of victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool (Reuters)

The high court has quashed the accidental death verdicts of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy.

Home Secretary Theresa May also announced there will also be a new police investigation into the disaster.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges ordered fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 fans following an application from Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

Grieve said new medical evidence from the Hillsborough Independent Panel published in September was sufficient enough to demand new verdicts.

May said former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart will lead the new inquiry into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans during an FA Cup semi-final game in 1989.

Stoddart will also work with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.

The damming report revealed that officers altered more than 160 police statements following the tragedy - 116 of which removed or changed negative comments about the force policing the game.

The report also revealed 41 fans could have survived with prompter action by police.

Deliberate misinformation

Lord Judge said there had been "deliberate misinformation surrounding the disaster".

"There has been a profound and palpable belief that justice had not been done [and] it is clear there are sound grounds for this application.

"The families of those who died will be vindicated and the memory of those who died will be respected."

May said: "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.

"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."

Stoddart will not be able to recruit officers who were involved or who any connection to the tragedy nor those from the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.

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 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."