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Hillsborough Investigation Marches On

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Monday's third pre-inquest hearing revealed a range of new information regarding the ongoing investigation and also produced an assertion that next year's full inquest should proceed as scheduled.

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Unprecedented progress over the past two years in the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster took another significant step forward at the third pre-inquest hearing, with reports on developments to this point, further speculation as to the scope of the police cover-up, and a strong claim from the coroner that he "shall not cease" in making sure that the start date for the full inquest remains as-is.

Here's a brief rundown of the day's major developments:

  • One of the major stories picked up by the British press was the speculation that video evidence might have been doctored or edited to omit important pieces of evidence in the case against  the police. There's nothing yet to indicate beyond a shadow of a doubt this has happened, but given the revelations in the case that have been confirmed in the past two years, there's no reason to believe that this sort of thing didn't take place. The police in charge of the case have constantly set a new low for unconscionable behavior, and while this wouldn't necessarily be the worst of their transgressions, it would certainly be another major piece of evidence in further revealing the extent of the efforts by those in charge to acquit themselves. Video experts will be called upon to examine the tapes to try to find any alterations or evidence of the original footage.
  • As mentioned above, Lord Justice Goldring, who was previously appointed coroner in February of this year, underlined his intent to ensure that the full inquest starts on March 31, 2014 as scheduled. Given the sheer volume of evidence and parties involved it would have been understandable if any delays were incurred, but at current it appears as though there is no reason to question the timeline that's been laid out. It's another encouraging step in the right direction, as it indicates an urgency that has been sorely lacking in years past.
  • The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), led by Deputy Chair Deborah Glass, released their update on the amount of work done to this point (link opens in a PDF). Ms. Glass will no longer be serving as the IPCC Chair after this month, but she has been an important figure in providing facts and information to the public as the investigation progresses, and today is no different. There's been over 1,000 witness accounts gathered since September 17th, they've completed nearly 250 allocations of police officers for interviews (57 of which have been completed out of 132 invited) and research, and 132 police notebooks gathered to accompany the 123 boxes of documents and 42,000 scanned pages of questionnaires.

No resolution just yet, but the all involved are apparently working to the best of their capabilities in driving things forward. Feelings of victory and vindication are tempered by those of sadness and anger, though at least now there's the realization that the efforts of those in charge are finally on the side of justice.