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Fresh Hillsborough inquests to be held

ESPN staff
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The third and final Hillsborough pre-inquest hearing will take place next Monday © PA Photos
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Fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans who were victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster will be held in the Cheshire town of Warrington, the corner has confirmed.

Lord Justice John Goldring has told relatives of those who died that the precise venue for the hearings will be announced "in due course".

The victims of the disaster were crushed to death on an overcrowded section of terracing at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday, on April 15, 1989.

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 in September 2012, 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.

That report has prompted a series of legal moves designed to bring those to blame for the tragedy to justice.

The original inquest verdicts were quashed in December, two months after the Independent Police Complaints Commission, 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.

Since then, Lord Justice Goldring has set about putting together plans for the fresh inquests with a series of three pre-inquest hearings in London.

At the first of those, in April, the coroner confirmed that the inquests would be held in the North West of England, closer to Liverpool, rather than in London - although an exact venue was not specified at the time. At the second, in June, he confirmed that the new inquests would begin on March 31, 2014.

The third and final pre-inquest hearing is scheduled to take place next Monday, October 7. At that hearing, families of the victims believe they will learn more about the inquest process.

Legal representations are set to be made by all interested parties, including the Football Association, South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Wednesday FC, as well as lawyers for the victims' families and the separate investigation teams.

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