There was some division during the recent preliminary hearing over the location of the investigations, but the coroner has decided against holding them in London
The coroner in charge of the inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, Lord Justice Goldring, has announced that proceedings will take place in the North West, as opposed to London.
Members of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) had asked for the investigations to be held in the capital in order to avoid local football rivalries prejudicing the jury, while the smaller Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) felt that the North West would be a more practical location.
Goldring agreed with the HJC, announcing in a written direction: “I have concluded that it would be right for the inquests to be held in the north-west. It would not be helpful further to identify a location at this stage.”
“The hearing is bound, it seems to me, to take several months. If it is held in London, those who wish to follow it in person will be away from home and living in hotels for a very long time.
“It is plainly not a practicable solution for someone to commute from Liverpool or the North West on a daily basis.”
“I can not see how anyone with work or caring responsibilities can spend long periods away from home in a hotel in London.”
Goldring stated that it would be unfair to expect those who are elderly or unwell to commute back and forth to London on a regular basis.
“Video-links are second best,” he added. “I have no doubt that a location can be found in the North West without the risk of actual or perceived prejudice.
“If there is a jury, those of us with experience of them know perfectly well that with proper and clear directions they soon put behind them anything they may have read or thought and concentrate on the evidence before them.”
Kenny Derbyshire, Hillsborough survivor and chairman of the HJC, said: “It’s a very good decision. We’re made up with it.
“The families didn’t want to have to move down to London, so this is for the families. I’ve spoken to a number of families today and they’re delighted.”
“With two campaign groups, unfortunately you will get disagreements from time to time. But I’m sure everyone will be delighted with the decision.”
Margaret Aspinall, HFSG chairwoman, said: “To be honest, I personally don’t mind where it is held. I’m quite happy wherever it is held as long as everything goes accordingly and we get the right verdicts on the death certificates.”
Lord Justice Goldring announced last week that the inquests are due to take place in early 2014.