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

The Attorney General has announced he will apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest into the deaths of 96 people at the Hillsborough stadium in 1989.

Dominic Grieve confirmed to the House of Commons the application will look to quash the original verdict of accidental death, following a damming report into the tragedy.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel's (HIP) report revealed that police were to blame for the crush which took place during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, and the authorities attempted to shift the blame onto Liverpool fans in the subsequent cover-up.

Grieve said his examination into the evidence was far from complete, but an application must be made at this stage in order to prevent any further anguish to the families.

Grieve said: "My consideration of the evidence is far from complete but, given the anxiety further delay may cause the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster, I have decided to take an exceptional course and state at this stage that, on the basis of what I have already seen, I have determined that I must make an application to the court.

"In doing so, I should make it clear that further work will need to be done before any application can be made.

"In particular, there was [originally] not one inquest but 96.

"My current view is that I will apply to have every one of those 96 inquests quashed."

The HIP report revealed the coroner enforced a cut-off point of 3:15pm on the day of the disaster, declaring nothing could have been done to save the lives of any of the 96 victims that day.

It was revealed as many as 41 people were still showing signs of life at that point and could have been saved if the emergency services had acted quicker.

Grieve told Parliament: "I believe that these deaths, arising as they do from a common chain of events, should all be considered afresh."

Attorney General Dominic Grieve
Attorney-General Dominic Grieve (Reuters)

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram said the move "marks one of the biggest steps forward in the fight for justice for the families in 23 years".

He said: "The undeniable fact is that the original inquest was unsound and this application, if successful, will mean that evidence will be able to be heard after the 3.15pm cut off imposed by the original coroner in the 1989 inquests."

Campaigners have previously described having a new inquest into the deaths as their main priority.

Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh in Greater Manchester and a key figure in setting up the independent panel, said before its release: "After the disclosure, my thinking will turn to a new inquest as the sheer cruelty of the 3.15pm cut-off point, when the coroner ruled that all Liverpool fans had died by this time, can't be allowed to stand.

"I, like the families, cannot accept a verdict of accidental death."

The view was shared by Sheila Coleman, spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. She said: "If that doesn't happen then at a minimum there should be a replacement verdict which incorporates a lack of care. People are saying they would like unlawful killing but I can't see that happening."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Director of Public Prosecutions recently confirmed the largest ever independent investigation into police conduct will be carried out into the forces who were responsible for the disaster.