Chapter 9: The generic hearing, Judicial Review and continuing controversies


2.9.1 In June 1990, one month after the conclusion of the mini-inquests, the Coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, wrote to solicitor Ian Rothera enclosing proposed instructions to Counsel, Michael Powers.[1] He speculated on the implications for the inquests should criminal prosecutions not materialise.

2.9.2 The inquests would be resumed, but as a public inquiry had been held, he questioned 'how much further work' would have 'to be undertaken by the Coroner and his Jury' with a view to reaching a verdict. The scope of the inquests would be important to establish. He asked: 'How large a "circle" does the word "how" encompass' and 'To what extent do the questions of "why did it happen" and "who is to blame" fall within the compass of the word "how"?'

2.9.3 Dr Popper considered imposing strict limitations: 'One view' could be 'to restrict the question of "how" to the establishment simply of the fact that a crush occurred within the terraces, but not to explore the reasons for this, taken together with the medical cause of death, the Jury could be invited to bring in a verdict'.

2.9.4 He recognised it was unlikely such a restriction 'would satisfy anyone', could be challenged on the grounds of insufficiency of inquiry and would prevent consideration of an unlawfully killed verdict because it would not allow the jury 'to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the criteria for such a verdict had been fulfilled'.

2.9.5 A full inquiry, he suggested, would focus on:

(i) The fans - time of arrival including possibly the reasons for lateness of arrival. Behaviour, demeanour and state of intoxication.

(ii) The site (including Club - Engineers [indecipherable] etc) - turnstiles, signs, access, stewarding and possibly previous incidents in particular an incident which occurred in 1981 when crushing occurred on these terraces.

(iii) The police - the police were severely criticised in Lord Justice Taylor's report. Their management of the game, including command and organisation within and without the ground, and management ranging from the Site Commanders to individual officers, particulary [sic] those who have been the subject of complaint.

(iv) Others, eg, licensing authorities, rescue organisations etc.

[1] Letter from Dr Popper to Mr Ian Rothera, 13 June 1990, SPP000001580001, pp1-5.