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Manchester City

Hopes for Hillsborough inquests in March

Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams believes that fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 disaster could begin as early as March.

Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin was among those who died, has been fighting to have his inquest brought forward because she has terminal cancer.

More than 105,000 people signed an online petition to support her, but Attorney General Dominic Grieve ruled that a single application would be made for the inquests of all 96 victims.

The High Court quashed the original verdicts of accidental death last month, but no date or venue has yet been confirmed for new hearings.

Williams, 60, wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday: "Good Afternoon my Red Family, had meeting with lawyers yesterday. Hopefully the inquest will start in March, no venue yet."

Mr Grieve, the Government's top law officer, applied for fresh inquests after an independent report published in September highlighted attempts by the emergency services to shift blame on to fans for the tragedy.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel report cleared supporters of any blame for the disaster, which happened at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.

It also produced new medical evidence that raised major questions of the original 1991 inquests conducted by coroner Stefan Popper.

Dr Popper refused to consider any evidence collected after 3.15pm on the day of the tragedy, ruling that none of the victims could have been saved after that time, but the independent report established that 41 of the supporters who died could have been saved after that cut-off point.

Campaign groups have long maintained that Dr Popper's original verdicts prevented a proper investigation into the events at Hillsborough that day.

In making his decision to quash the original inquest verdict, Lord Chief Justice Lord Igor Judge said there had been "deliberate misinformation surrounding the disaster".

Since then, the Independent Police Complaints Commission - the UK's police watchdog - has begun investigating up to 2,400 officers in connection with the tragedy.

Mr Grieve has suggested that fresh inquest hearings may have to wait until the outcome of any prosecutions.

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, told the Liverpool Echo that she had not been made aware of any new date for the inquests.