Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Funding for Hillsborough families

Hillsborough victims' families and supporters react after the High Court quashed the original accidental death inquest verdicts

The Government will fund legal representation for the families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster at the new inquest ordered into their deaths.

The High Court on Wednesday quashed the accidental death verdicts returned after the supporters died in the crush at the stadium in Sheffield 23 years ago. The move will mean a fresh hearing into the deaths, but the families had been concerned about the cost of hiring lawyers to represent them.

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley told MPs: "The Government will provide funding for the legal representation of the bereaved Hillsborough families at the fresh inquests."

The unopposed, "exceptional" application to quash the original inquest verdict was made by the Government's top law officer, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, on Wednesday.

It followed the publication in September of a damning report laying bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.

The Liverpool supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

The High Court ruled that it was "necessary, desirable and in the interests of justice" that a fresh inquest should be held.

A new police investigation into the disaster has also been announced.

Mr Lansley made the announcement on funding during questions on future Commons business. His comments came after shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle had warned the families would "have to meet expensive legal costs to ensure they are adequately represented at the new inquests".

The Government has also pledged to effectively waive VAT on a charity single - a version of the Hollies' hit He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Justice Collective - aimed at helping meet the legal costs.

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