New inquests into the 96 deaths at Hillsborough are to begin next year, it was announced on Thursday.
Lord Justice Goldring has confirmed the new inquests – which were ordered last December when a High Court panel quashed the original verdicts of accidental death – will not be delayed until after the conclusion of police investigations into the disaster, which took place on April 15 1989.
At the conclusion of the initial pre-court hearing held in London, Lord Goldring – who will oversee the new inquests as coroner – said it would not be “sensible” to set a specific date when the process will begin.
However, he added: “I will for the moment simply say that they will start in early 2014.”
There had been some dispute over where the inquests will take place, as the families of the victims did not want them to be held in London.
Barry Devonside, a member of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign who lost his son Christopher at the disaster, commented: “We would prefer Manchester, Preston or Chester because families will be able to travel in the north west and we don’t think it’s possible for a Liverpool jury to preside over the inquest.”
However, Lord Goldring did not make a decision on the venue on Thursday as he wants time to consider the options.
“I shall hand down my decision next week and set out the reasons for it,” he stated.