Families of Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster are meeting for the first time today since an independent panel revealed a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy from the police on to the victims.
The Hillsborough Families Support Group (HFSG) is meeting at Anfield to discuss the next step in its campaign for justice for the 96 victims of the 1989 disaster.
High-profile lawyers for the campaign, Michael Mansfield QC and Lord Falconer, will appear via an internet videolink.
Margaret Aspinall, chair of the HFSG, spoke just before she went into the meeting.
She said: “We are going to be taking legal advice to find out what we do next. We have got to make sure we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Trevor Hicks, the group’s president, said: “We will be looking at all the options and seeing where we go from here. I think it’s almost certain now that there will be fresh inquests.”
The damning Hillsborough Independent Panel report revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the 96 lives lost at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium on April 15, 1989, could have been saved.
The panel found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
Mrs Aspinall said that she was sure everybody would want to get the inquest verdicts overturned as soon as possible and to bring people to account.
But Mr Hicks said that if criminal prosecutions arise, then “one of the difficulties” would be that they would take precedence and could further delay the start of new inquests.
He said he hoped the state – which had “connived” against the families in the past – would now help put things right.
Mr Hicks said he backed the idea of having an oversight panel to help co-ordinate the search for justice.
He said: “It’s so we have a concerted approach. We don’t want a piecemeal thing that drags on forever.”
The panel would have a membership acceptable to the families and have full access to all investigations and prosecutions, and provide reassurance to the families that the process is being undertaken properly.
Mr Hicks also said he wanted to see individuals brought to justice for their crimes.
“If someone has done criminal wrong, then they should face criminal charges. If they haven’t, then fine, it should be disciplinary charges.
“We have said all along that we knew skulduggery had gone on. But the report even shocked me who has lived with this, at just how far and how deep it went.”