Hillsborough: Hearing told of police video 10-minute gap

Liverpool fans holding Hillsborough scarves
Image caption The deaths of all 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster will be reviewed

A Hillsborough pre-inquest hearing has been told a police video of the tragedy has 10 minutes of footage missing.

Pete Weatherby, barrister for some of the families, said one of the police tapes had an "unexplained 10-minute gap in the middle".

New inquests into 96 fans' deaths in March will consider the emergency service response for the first time.

Thirteen former or serving police officers have declined to speak to the police watchdog's Hillsborough inquiry.

Another six have failed to respond to requests.

'Sound operational reasons'

Ninety five Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in April 1989 during an FA cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest, and another fan in a persistent vegetative state passed away in 1993 when treatment was withdrawn.

At a previous pre-inquest hearing in October, Mr Weatherby said video filmed by police during the disaster "may have been edited".

The families are seeking disclosure of the names of all 240 officers whose statements were amended.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had "sound operational reasons" for not publicly releasing the names.

Image caption Fresh inquests into the 96 deaths were ordered in December

Rachel Cerfontyne, deputy chair of the IPCC, said its officers had already interviewed 143 of the 240 officers.

The inquiry has received 1,596 responses to its appeal for witnesses who gave accounts to the original West Midlands Police investigation, she added.

There have also been 400 requests from witnesses for copies of the statements they gave to police at the time.

The police watchdog is also examining two complaints by the brother of one victim, Adam Spearitt, about the actions of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The first related to his potentially having wrongly read out Adam's name on a list of those confirmed alive in the immediate aftermath.

The second allegation is that comments made by Sir Bernard about whether he made a statement about his role at Hillsborough have been misleading.

All the deaths will be looked at by the inquests, not just 41 which were classed as survivable.

Two doctors have been appointed to look at whether an earlier or different emergency response would have meant more lives could have been saved.

It will be the first time evidence on ambulance response times has been heard. London Ambulance Service paramedic David Whitmore will look at the timings.

Coroner Lord Justice Goldring will preside over the jury inquests in Warrington.

Christina Lambert, QC for the inquests, said blood alcohol levels of victims were "not relevant to the causes of the Hillsborough disaster".

Individual pathology reports on all 96 victims are being prepared and should be ready in the new year, the hearing was told.

The Hillsborough investigation being overseen by the IPCC is based in Warrington.

A separate team, led by former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, is investigating the response of all other agencies involved in the aftermath of the disaster.

The original inquest verdicts of accidental death, from 1991, were quashed by the High Court in December 2012.

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