New Hillsborough inquests nearer
Families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster are closer to justice after the Attorney General paved the way for fresh inquests.
Dominic Grieve QC said he was taking the "exceptional course" of indicating that he will apply to quash the original accidental death verdicts before finishing his review of the evidence to spare families the anxiety of further delay.
The move comes after a damning report into the disaster 23 years ago laid bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.
Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.
Liverpool MP Steve Rotheram said the Attorney General's decision "marks one of the biggest steps forward in the fight for justice for the families in 23 years".
Some families have even refused to pick up the death certificates and the move raises the possibility of different verdicts "which the families have always believed should have reflected the unlawful killing of their loved ones", he added.
Pat Joynes, whose son Nicholas Joynes, 27, was killed in the tragedy, said: "I'm highly delighted.
"We want the accidental death verdicts quashed so we can get manslaughter verdicts.
"I have spoken to different families over the weekend, that seems to be the opinion and it is what I would want as well - corporate manslaughter and manslaughter verdicts."
She went on: "Ninety-six people can't die and hundreds injured without someone being held responsible.
"It's another milestone, yes. The truth, in my opinion, is finally coming out, I'm very pleased.
"We want to see justice. If that means police officers have to stand trial, well they should stand trial in a criminal court."
Mrs Joynes, who lives just outside St Helens, Merseyside, said she hoped any new inquests would be held in Liverpool rather than Sheffield again.
"My opinion, and I think most families' opinion, would be for Liverpool because years ago we had to get over to Sheffield nearly every day for weeks after weeks on end, and it's just too much for us now, we are all getting older, the mums and dads."
Any criminal proceedings would have an impact on when a new inquest could take place, Mr Grieve said, but this would not affect the timing of the application to have the original verdicts overturned.
"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," he said.
"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."
But he added that the views of families would be sought first.
The application was "not simply a matter of putting the Hillsborough Panel Report before the court" and should be "as persuasive as it can be", Mr Grieve said.
It was "inevitable" that the taxpayer was going to pay a significant amount of the costs involved in any new inquest, he added.
Prime Minister David Cameron said last month that Mr Grieve would review the highly critical report to decide whether to apply to quash the original flawed inquest and apply for a new one.
Home Secretary Theresa May will lead a debate on the Hillsborough inquiry panel's report in the Commons next Monday.
If the application for new inquests is approved, it would be for the court to decide whether the hearings took place in Liverpool, as the families have requested.