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Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2012

Following the publication of the Hillsborough panel report I have been considering whether to apply to the High Court for an order quashing the original inquests and ordering new inquests to be held. The High Court will have the power to grant such an order if I place before it evidence that persuades the Court that new inquests are necessary or desirable in the interests of justice.

My consideration of the evidence is far from complete but, given the anxiety further delay may cause the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster, I have decided to take an exceptional course and state at this stage that, on the basis of what I have already seen, I have determined that I must make an application to the Court.

In doing so I should make it clear that further work will need to be done before any application can be made. In particular, there was not one inquest but 96. My current view is that I will apply to have every one of those 96 inquests quashed. I believe that these deaths, arising as they do from a common chain of events, should all be considered afresh. However, before reaching any final view on the scope of the application, I want to give the families affected the opportunity to make any representations in respect of the family member or members they lost. I will therefore be in contact with each family seeking views.

The application is not simply a matter of putting the Hillsborough panel report before the Court. The application will need to be fully prepared and the evidence that underpins the report’s findings will need to be carefully considered. I want the application that is made to be as persuasive as it can be. While I make this statement at this stage to reassure the families that an application will be made, it must be understood that there are legal as well as evidential issues to be considered. Although this work is being given a high priority, further time will be needed to prepare the application.