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Jun 6, 2013

Date set for new Hillsborough inquests

New inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster will begin on March 31, 2014, the coroner has ruled.

• Inquests set for north-west
• First step set for inquests

Lord Justice John Goldring made the announcement at a second pre-inquest hearing in London on Wednesday.

He also ruled that the inquests, to be held at a venue in the North West of England yet to be decided, will have a jury.

The judge announced at a first hearing in April that the inquests would be held in the North West, closer to Liverpool, rather than in London, and is confident that a venue will be found in time.

He said: "That will not be a reason not to begin on that date."

The judge said that there would be a third pre-inquest hearing in October, with a view to set out a timetable for the new inquests.

"Obviously, we are going to have to timetable the hearing itself with care, particularly as we will have a jury, so time is not unlimited," he said.

The victims were crushed to death at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday, 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, was set up in December and is being headed up by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart.

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