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Hillsborough inquest: Birnberg Peirce wins for families as Crown mulls criminal charges

Birnberg Peirce & Partners, a law firm which provides representation to families whose loved ones have died in controversial circumstances involving the state, has led almost 20 different law firms in an inquest into the deaths arising from the Hillsborough Stadium Football disaster.

After hearing two years of evidence, jurors found that the then match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield of the South Yorkshire police was ‘responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence due to a breach of his duty of care’. Thousands were injured and 96 football fans died after the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The inquest was heard before retired judge Sir John Goldring who was the senior presiding judge of England and Wales from January 2010 until December 2012.

Birnberg, which represented 74 families, put forward a team of nine, including Marcia Willis Stewart, Mishka Nelson and Rory Hearty. The group was led by 24 barristers, including Michael Mansfield QC of Mansfield Chambers and Garden Court Chambers’ Peter Wilcock QC.

Broudie Jackson Canter, EAD and Butcher Barlow represented a further 21 families with the help of Garden Court North Chambers’ Pete Weatherby QC and Mark George QC.

A group of six acted as counsel to the inquests, led by One Crown Office Row’s Christina Lambert and 4 New Square’s Jonathan Hough. Fieldfisher partner Tim Suter acted as solicitor to the inquest.

Both the chief constable of the South Yorkshire police and the West Midlands police were represented by internal solicitors, with 5 Essex Court’s Fiona Bar QC and Jeremy Johnson acting as counsel respectively.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) internal lawyers represented the director of public prosecutions.

Sue Hemming, head of the special crime and counter terrorism division at the CPS said: ‘The CPS will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.’

She added: ‘We would ask that everyone is mindful of the continuing investigations and the potential for future criminal proceedings when reporting or publicly commenting on the inquest’s conclusions.’