Hillsborough families pin inquest hopes on doctor's evidence

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The Independent Online
A doctor who treated victims of the Hillsborough disaster has offered new medical evidence which it is hoped will overturn the original inquest verdict.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group plans to use Dr Ed Walker's testimony to ask the High Court to quash the accidental death verdict. Its solicitors hope that a new inquest would change the verdict to unlawful killing.

Dr Walker, who tended more than a dozen fans on the day of the football stadium disaster in April 1989, told the journal Hospital Doctor that the first victim he treated, 14-year-old Philip Hammond, was still showing signs of life well after 3.15pm. At the inquest the coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, had refused to hear details of what happened after that time, ruling that those killed were already braindead.

Dr Walker's account follows new evidence published in the Independent on Sunday last year in which another victim Kevin Williams, 15, was still alive at 4pm. The victims' families claim that Dr Popper's ruling denied them the chance to prove that South Yorkshire Police failed to activate a major disaster plan.

Peter Kilfoyle, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton who raised the families' claims in the Commons, has been invited to the Home Office on Monday to discuss the new evidence with Home Office ministers.

Dr Walker, who did not give evidence and only recently saw transcripts of the inquest describing him as an "unidentified doctor", had watched the unfolding events on television and drove over to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield to see if he could help. There he treated about 14 patients over six hours. He says he detected a pulse and a cardiac monitor also picked up a heartbeat well after 3.15pm although he gave up attempts to revive Philip at 3.40pm.

Philip's father, also called Philip, said: "We have been looking for Ed for seven-and-a-half years and we are over the moon we have found him. At last we may get justice."

Ann Adlington, a Liverpool city council solicitor who is acting for the families, said an application was being made to the Attorney General alleging that crucial evidence, including Dr Walker's, was not put before the jury. "Dr Walker's evidence demonstrates that the inquest did not fulfil its function,"she said. Solicitors are also applying to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a criminal investigation into South Yorkshire Police, who handled the incident, and West Midlands Police, who investigated the tragedy. Both forces insist Dr Walker's statement was made available to the coroner.