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Solicitor General issues advisory note on Hillsborough inquest

(London) The Solicitor General asks people to take care when commenting about the Hillsborough inquest. The inquests into the deaths of the 96 people who died as a result of the events at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 continue, with evidence currently being given by witnesses.

The inquests are being heard by a Coroner (Rt. Hon. Sir John Goldring) together with a jury. Editors, publishers and social media users are reminded that the inquest proceedings are currently active for the purpose of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

The Solicitor General is mindful of the need to ensure that the jury’s position is safeguarded and he wishes to draw attention to the risk of publishing material, including online, which could create a substantial risk that the course of justice in the inquests may be seriously impeded or prejudiced.

This risk could arise by commentary on evidence that has been given, in particular where that commentary may seek to draw conclusions on matters that the jury will need to consider in reaching their determinations. The inquests could also be prejudiced by speculation as to what further evidence may be given and what the outcome of the inquests might be.

The Attorney General’s Office will continue to monitor coverage of these proceedings and will take action if it is considered appropriate to do so. Editors, publishers and social media users should take legal advice to ensure they are in a position to fully comply with the obligations they are subject to under the Contempt of Court Act.

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