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Hillsborough families set for hearing

New inquests in the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster are likely to move a significant step closer at a hearing in London this week.

Lord Justice John Goldring will hold a second preliminary hearing on Wednesday, which could set out when and where the new inquests will be held.

In April, the coroner told a pre-inquest hearing that the inquests would take place early in 2014 and be held in the North-West of England.

It is unclear whether dates and a venue will be confirmed this week, but Lord Justice Goldring is expected to outline more details about the scope of the investigation and how it will be conducted.

Campaigners and relatives of the Hillsborough victims will travel to London for the hearing, which will take place at the Principal Registry of the Family Division, part of the High Court.

The proceedings will be relayed via a live video link-up to other families gathered at Liverpool Crown Court.

Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, told the Liverpool Echo: "After Wednesday, we will be more informed about the scope of the inquest, so we look forward to it being an informative hearing.

"It will give us firm details on the next steps and substantial information about the inquest process."

The Hillsborough victims were crushed to death at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough on April 15 1989.

The original inquests, conducted by Dr Stefan Popper, returned verdicts of accidental death in March 1991.

Campaigners have maintained that those verdicts, and the manner in which the inquests were conducted, prevented a proper investigation into the role of the police and emergency services on the day of the tragedy.

An independent report, published last September, cleared fans of any blame for the disaster and highlighted the extent to which the police and emergency services had attempted to cover up their own culpability.

The original inquest verdicts were quashed in December, two months after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the UK's police watchdog, announced that it would carry out a two-year investigation into both the role played by officers on the day and the subsequent cover-up.

A second investigation, focusing on possible criminal behaviour by any people or bodies with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough on April 15 1989, was set up in December and is being headed up by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart.

The schedules of those two investigations will have an impact on when the new inquests are held, Lord Justice Goldring indicated at the April hearing.

On Wednesday, he is expected to announce whether he intends to appoint his own separate investigative team.