UPDATED 1200 hrs - Answers to General Questionnaire

UPDATED 1445 hrs - Individual determinations

Official Inquest Website

As a result of the events at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield on 15 April 1989, 96 men, women and children lost their lives. Following an application by the Attorney-General, the High Court quashed the verdicts in the original inquests and ordered fresh inquests to be held.   The Rt Hon Sir John Goldring was appointed as Assistant Coroner for South Yorkshire (East) and West Yorkshire (West) to conduct those inquests with a jury. (By the end of the inquest the jury had reduced, for medical reasons, from 11 to 9).  The inquest hearings started on Monday 31 March 2014.  Previous post 20th December 2012 - Hillsborough - New inquests to be held.

Coroners - Some basic points:

In modern law, the Coroner's Court makes determinations - Coroners and Justice Act 2009 section 5 - ascertaining (a) who the deceased was; (b) how, when and where the deceased came by his or death.  Section 5(2) is very important:

Where necessary in order to avoid a breach of any Convention rights (within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42)), the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)(b) is to be read as including the purpose of ascertaining in what circumstances the deceased came by his or her death.

Section 5(2) came about as a result of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the decision of the House of Lords in R (Middleton) v HM Coroner for West Somerset [2004] 2 AC 182 - (the case is summarised here)..

The Hillsborough jury will have been primarily concerned with the HOW and WHEN (time).   The determinations of Coroner's Courts may not be framed in such a way as to appear to determine any question of - (a) criminal liability on the part of a named person, or (b) civil liability - 2009 Act section 10.

Juries are fairly rare at Inquests but they are required in the instances set out in the 2009 Act section 7.   The jurors are sworn to give a "true determination according to the evidence" (section 8) and the jury is basically required to be unanimous BUT this is subject to section 9 which states that a determination or finding need not be unanimous if - (a) only one or two of the jury do not agree on it, and (b) the jury has deliberated for a period of time that the senior coroner thinks reasonable in view of the nature and complexity of the case.

The Jury answered 14 questions:

The answers to a questionnaire containing 14 important questions may be read at Hillsborough Inquest website.  Question 6 concerned unlawful killing -Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the Disaster were unlawfully killed?  7 of the 9 jurors answered YES to this question.


The 27 years since the disaster have been marked by the sheer determination and dignity of the families searching for the truth of the matter.  The following links may be of interest:

Interim report by Lord Justice Taylor - Note: Evidence to the Taylor Inquiry was NOT on oath.  The interim report (para 13) states: "Witnesses were not sworn. Since this is a departmental inquiry, there was no power to administer the oath but there was no instance of any witness giving evidence which I considered might have been different had he or she been sworn."

Final report by Lord Justice Taylor

Judicial review of the first inquests

Stuart Smith Scrutiny of Evidence - report 1998

Anne Williams v United Kingdom [2009] ECHR 478 (17th February 2009) - European Court of Human Rights.  The court ruled Mrs Williams' application inadmissible due to lapse of time.  She had complained under Article 2 of the Convention that the United Kingdom authorities failed to investigate properly the circumstances of her son’s death. She alleged that there was no effective investigation, in particular (i) that there was no independent public investigation into the emergency response and planning; (ii) that there was no independent public investigation into whether any failings by state agents had an impact on the death of her son; and (iii) that no criminal or disciplinary charges were pursued by the authorities against the two police officers involved. The applicant complains about the lack of independence of the West Midlands police, the narrow scope of the inquest, the inadequate opportunities for participation and cross-examination in the inquiries, the fact that the inquiries were not public and the fact that the impact of new evidence on the death of Kevin Williams has not been adequately considered.

Hillsborough Independent Panel Report - September 2012

High Court ordered new inquests and quashed the original "verdicts"

Statements 26th April:

Crown Prosecution Service, the IPCC and Operation Resolve

South Yorkshire Police

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