Hillsborough coroner to choose venue for inquest

The 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster
Image caption Ninety-six Liverpool fans lost their lives as a result of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989

The fresh Hillsborough inquest could be held anywhere in England and Wales as coroners are no longer restricted to holding inquests in their districts.

The change to the Coroners Act is part of a series of reforms.

It has been welcomed by relatives who have spoken out against a second inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans being held in Sheffield.

The 1989 FA Cup match at which the fans died and the original, now-overturned inquest were held in the city.

The Ministry of Justice is making changes to the coroner system under the Coroners Act 1988.

The location of an inquest will be able to be moved from a coroner's own district if it is deemed to be in the best interest of bereaved families and witnesses.

Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman Trevor Hicks said the venue of the inquest was "important" to the relatives of victims and had been discussed extensively.

His two daughters, Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, died in the disaster.

He said: "We have been vociferously vocal in that we didn't want the inquest to be held in Sheffield. It's nothing against Sheffield, per se, but it didn't serve us well on the last occasion."

A number of locations are being discussed. The final decision rests with the coroner.

Flexibility hope

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: "The anguish of losing a loved one in circumstances that require an inquest is unimaginably heartbreaking for any family.

"We want to ensure inquests can happen without unnecessary delays so families can find closure.

"That is why I am granting coroners the power to move inquests. This will bring greater flexibility, more timely hearings and some relief to families."

The fresh inquest into the Hillsborough disaster was ordered at the end of last year when a panel of three High Court judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, quashed the original accidental death verdicts.

The 96 Liverpool supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15 1989, where their team were playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

A damning report laying bare a cover-up by police that attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims was published last September.

A new police investigation and an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are also being conducted.