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Column 975they may not wish to give way in those circumstances. But what happened this evening was, I repeat, somewhat unfortunate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has been in the House for many years, so he knows that the Minister is responsible for his own speech. I was very tolerant with the hon. Gentleman while he was speaking, even though he strayed rather far outside the narrow motion under discussion.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Bates.]
Sir Malcolm Thornton (Crosby): The House will be familiar with the tragic events at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989, when 95 people died, a couple of them my constituents. The House will also be familiar with the fact that the events leading up to the disaster have been well rehearsed and were reported on by Lord Justice Taylor. It is not the purpose of this debate to go over that ground again or to rehash the arguments that were dealt with in some detail by the Taylor report.
Tonight's debate is narrowly and tightly drawn. It relates only to the death of one of my constituents, Kevin Williams. It is not my purpose to talk about events before 3.15 pm, the cut-off point that the coroner decided should be set at the inquest. His suggestion was that all who died that day were brain dead by that time. Therefore the evidence from that day was dealt with only up to that point. I should like to put firmly on the record the events relating to Kevin Williams which occurred after 3.15 pm and which, because of the coroner's decision, were not deemed admissible as evidence. The chronology of what happened to Kevin that day is broadly speaking as follows. At 3.28 pm Kevin was lifted out of enclosure 3 and helped on to the pitch by PC Michael Craighill. There is visual evidence of that fact from BBC tapes. At 3.32 pm Kevin was rushed across the pitch on an advertising hoarding--there is a timed photograph of that taking place. Also at 3.32 pm, an off-duty Merseyside policeman, a Mr. Bruder, who was in the north stand spotted Kevin lying on the ground and left his seat to go to attend to him. There is also visual evidence of that incident, as a set of photographs is available from The Times .
At 3.35 pm, there is visual evidence of a second ambulance entering the ground. There is a timed photograph of that incident. It appears also on video. At 3.37 pm, Mr. Bruder says, an ambulance passed while he was attending to Kevin and he asked the St. John's ambulance man present to stop it and to put Kevin in it. The ambulance would not stop. Mr. Bruder said that it looked as though it had orders not to. Since then, Mr. Tony Edwards of the ambulance service has confirmed that he was the assistant to the driver in the ambulance and that he would have passed Mr. Bruder at 3.37 pm that day. Mr. Edwards also says that he had orders to go straight to the Leppings lane end of the ground, as there were fatalities.
At 3.45 pm, special WPC Debra Martin came across Kevin lying on the ground in the recovery position. She says that she saw life in his face and found pulses in his neck. Miss Martin and the police constable who was with her ran with Kevin to the gym. Miss Martin was told by her superiors to stay with Kevin and to carry out resuscitation and heart massage. After resuscitation, Kevin started to breathe again, his ribs were moving. Miss Martin picked Kevin up in her arms. It was then that Kevin opened his eyes, murmured, "Mom", then closed his eyes and died. Miss Martin said that Kevin turned grey and then went quickly blue. The time would have been about 3.55 pm.
Column 977At 4.6 pm, Dr. Curpen certified life extinct.
Those are the bare facts of the chronology of the death of Kevin Williams.
I turn now to the medical evidence. At the inquest, Dr. Slater, giving evidence of his findings concerning Kevin, said:
"My examination of Kevin showed that the main finding was that of asphyxia . . . This had also resulted in four fractures to the small bones in the actual voice box . . . the compression of the neck or chest has occurred here and unconsciousness occurs very rapidly, certainly within a few seconds . . . Following unconsciousness then there is no discomfort and no pain. Death then occurs after approximately three to five minutes."
Further evidence came before the judicial review, which has since taken place, from the specialists who were asked to provide their opinions. In his evidence, Dr. Iain West, from the department of forensic medicine at Guy's hospital, clearly said:
"I do not believe it is possible to say how long consciousness would have been retained, but he certainly would not have become unconscious between 3 and 5 seconds of being crushed. Again I would not agree with Dr. Slater in estimating how long the deceased would have survived . . . he could well have survived for a considerable period, well beyond 3.15 pm.
He suffered convulsions as the result of anoxic brain damage. Whether Mr. Bruder saw convulsions or twitching is irrelevant. A dead body neither convulses or twitches."
He goes on further to say that that apparent twitching is seen "in individuals who are maintained on a respirator but whose heart is still functioning . . . This phenomenon only occurs for a very short period after death unless muscles are electrically stimulated. Twitching movements, however, suggest that one is much more likely to be dealing with a live body than a dead one."
Dr. James Burns, a forensic scientist from Liverpool university, commented as follows on Dr. Slater's evidence:
"Dr. Slater suggests that Kevin lost consciousness very quickly and I see no reason to disagree with this. However, Dr. Slater then goes on to generalise and state that death occurs after approximately three or five minutes in these cases of traumatic asphyxia. While this may be so, in the vast majority of instances, it is by no means certain that even in a severe case of traumatic asphyxia, death necessarily ensues three or four minutes after the compression begins. The all important factor, in my opinion, is whether the severe compression is sustained. If the pressure is intermittent, then death may not ensue for a considerable length of time." My concerns arise from a detailed examination of the evidence that was presented to the inquest. The off-duty policeman from Merseyside, Mr. Bruder--who was present as a Liverpool fan--clearly stated in his original evidence that he had seen and taken a pulse in Kevin, and that Kevin was convulsing. That was the opinion of an experienced police officer who had had some first-aid training. Subsequently, Mr. Bruder changed his mind, and suspected that they had not in fact been convulsions.
I have to say that that change of mind came after Mr. Bruder had been interviewed by West Yorkshire police and had been asked to reflect on his evidence. He has since spoken to Kevin's mother, Anne Williams, and has confirmed that his original evidence was the evidence to which he would adhere.
I want to make particular mention of Debra Martin, the special WPC who was on duty. She was a trained dental nurse and, in her own words, had probably had more experience of dealing with first aid than most of her colleagues who were there that day. She is convinced in her own mind about what had happened; yet the way in
Column 978which her evidence was treated at the inquest is little short of scandalous. It provoked the specialist pathologist whom I have already mentioned to say, in a letter to Mrs. Williams:
"It strikes me that WPC Martin has been the victim of unjustifiable adverse criticism amounting almost to ridicule. I am amazed that the evidence of Miss Martin, a Dental Nurse, by training, and a Special Woman Police Constable of five years' standing, is treated with such incredulity, amounting almost to hostility. From what I have learned from the post- mortem examination of Dr. Slater, and from the evidence given by Dr. Slater at the inquest, I see no reason to doubt the evidence of Miss Martin when she states that she picked Kevin up in her arms, that Kevin opened his eyes, moved his mouth and said Mom', flicked his eyelashes, closed his eyes and died."
The questions that I should wish to stress and that are the central issue of the debate are these. Why has it proved necessary for the evidence to be presented to a judicial review, where it was given only scant attention? Why has it proved necessary for the evidence to be the subject of a television programme? That served only to extend further the agonies of Anne Williams and her family. Was it an attempt to try to lay blame for something that occurred a long time ago?
I suggest that little in the way of preparation or training could have helped once the disaster at Hillsborough had occurred. Almost inevitably, people were bound to make some mistakes. It was inevitable that judgments would be made on the spot which perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight and of considering the matter after some years had passed, should not and certainly would not have been made. But what is there to hide? I cannot understand why the evidence of Mr. Bruder and WPC Martin should be called into question. If Kevin were dead by 3.15 pm or if he were brain dead and died very soon thereafter, the events that took place between 3.26 pm and 3.55 pm are irrelevant. As Dr Iain West said, however, dead bodies do not twitch. In this case, prima facie evidence shows that Kevin Williams was still very much alive at that time.
The matters that I described are the cause of my concern. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has been courteous in the extreme in dealing with this case. He has considered it very fairly. I have corresponded with him. He has spent probably more time on the Kevin Williams case than on any aspect of the cases of the other victims who died at Hillsborough on that day. I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that and I know that Kevin's mother, Mrs. Anne Williams, thanks him for it, too.
In our most recent exchange of correspondence, my right hon. and learned Friend said that he had considered the matter in the light of the judicial review and that he felt that, although he has powers under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988, he could not find sufficient new evidence that would warrant his intervention on this occasion. However, he left the door open for full and further consideration of any new evidence.
I have read the transcript of the judicial review. Scant attention was given to the reports of the pathologists Iain West and James Burns. Scant attention was given to
Column 979anything that did not appear at the original inquest. An examination of all the documentation that is available and that I shall make available to the Attorney-General tomorrow will show clearly that there is a need, in the Kevin Williams case, to consider the circumstances again.
What can possibly be changed by re-examining this tragic case? It will not bring back Kevin or change what occurred. I have already referred to the Taylor report and the hope that lessons will have been learnt from that day to ensure that such tragedies can never occur again, so why reopen the case?
Since that day, I have spoken to Anne Williams many times. I and other colleagues who have had to meet their constituents--the families of those who lost their lives that day--have all been made aware of the grief that they still feel to this day and the uncertainties that they still face, but it is not the object of this exercise to talk about other cases.
The one thing that impressed me about Anne Williams was her desire to know the truth. Somewhere in Sheffield there is a death certificate that relates to Kevin; it does not relate to the circumstances of which Anne Williams is now aware. In other words, the cut-off point of 3.15 pm does not relate to Kevin, and I believe that the evidence shows that clearly. She has told me more than once that, until the truth is known, neither she nor Kevin will know peace. I believe her. It is not my purpose, or hers, to expose errors that may have been made that day because of human frailty. That exercise has already been undertaken. I have already said that I find it difficult to understand why evidence that was freely given was somehow altered afterwards. The purpose is not to point the finger; the purpose is to find out the truth.
I can best finish by quoting Anne Williams. She said:
"He was just a little boy that went to watch a football match and never came home. There is nothing that I can be told now that will make the agony any worse. I just want to know the truth." For those reasons, together with the evidence that I shall certainly give to my right hon. and learned Friend--it will be with his office tomorrow--I urge him to re-examine the case, to exercise the powers available to him under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 and to hold a full inquiry. The House can then show mercy to a family who have suffered for far too long.
Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North): I wish to express my gratitude to the hon. Member for Crosby (Sir M. Thornton) for allowing me to speak for a few minutes and for the assiduous way in which he has pursued this case for a number of years on behalf of his constituents.
In raising this matter, the hon. Gentleman has also raised many concerns common to the families of those who died at
Hillsborough--people from Merseyside and beyond. On one occasion, he and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) and I met to discuss the problems arising from Hillsborough. My concern is simple. There have been times since the disaster when I felt that it might have been right to draw a line under the incident. There are times when I have felt that it might not be in the best interests of the bereaved families to reopen the process and go through all the
Column 980traumas again. But what impresses itself on me is the fact that those families do not feel that all that needs to be said has been said. I could quote particular constituents, but I shall not. The difficulty is caused by the fact that there was a cut-off point of 3.15 pm for the events considered by the inquest. Things that happened after that time were not taken fully into account. Consequently people feel, probably rightly, that despite everything that has been said and all the conclusions that may have been drawn, exactly what happened in those individual cases has not been properly covered.
I do not want to go into the technical detail, as the hon. Member for Crosby has done so exhaustively and with such great skill. But until people feel fully satisfied that every stone that can be turned has been turned to find out exactly what happened in every case, even beyond the cut-off point of 3.15 pm, they will not feel satisfied that everything that can be done has been done.
In congratulating the hon. Gentleman on bringing the matter to the attention of the Attorney-General and of the House, it is important to say that we have not yet gone all the way with the process. That is not because of what I may think, or what the Attorney-General or the hon. Member for Crosby may feel, but because the families feel that even if justice has been done, it has not been seen to have been done. Until they feel that justice has been done, we cannot let the matter rest.
The Attorney-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell): I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Sir M. Thornton) for the careful and comprehensive way in which he has brought before the House the very real and understandable concerns of his constituents. Nobody can fail to understand or to sympathise with the deep and continuing anguish of Mrs. Williams and the other families, both from the Liverpool area and from anywhere else in the country, who were affected by the disaster, and with their wish to have as much information as possible about the circumstances in which their loved ones--and Kevin in particular--so tragically died.
I am grateful, too, to the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) for his brief contribution to the debate. Rightly, he drew attention to the fact that he and his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) came to see me to discuss the matter. I have discussed it with other hon. Members, too, and I recognise that it is a matter of the greatest concern to the families.
I hasten to make it clear that from my point of view--indeed, from anyone's point of view--there is nothing to hide here. That said, I know that my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Knowsley, North recognise that my role in the matter has to be that of
Attorney-General, and has therefore focused primarily on the consideration that I gave in 1992 to an application by relatives of six of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, including Mrs. Williams, for my consent under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 to the making of an application to the High Court for an order quashing the inquisition and directing a fresh inquest. When I have to use legal phrases I do not intend them to be as dry as dust; I simply mention them to put them into context.
Column 981After careful consideration I felt it right to decline to authorise such an application, because I had concluded that there would be no reasonable prospect of establishing before the High Court that it was
"necessary or desirable in the interests of justice"
for a fresh inquest to be held. That is the statutory test. Subsequent litigation has tended to confirm that assessment. My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby and a number of hon. Members have brought to my attention the broadcast on ITV of "The Cook Report". I have seen that broadcast and I have studied it. I have thought about what I am saying in the context of this debate and in the context of that programme. It relates to the Hillsborough disaster, with particular reference to the case of Kevin Williams. No further formal application has yet been made to me under section 13 of the Coroners Act and if I am formally to consider the matter, such an application would need to be made. In saying that, I can reassure my hon. Friend and other hon. Members that I shall look carefully at the evidence and information that my hon. Friend has said he will put before me tomorrow--and I welcome that.
I have made it clear to those who have written to me--many have--that I remain willing, as is my duty, objectively to consider any further application under section 13. A proper application, of course, has to be supported by evidence in proper and admissible form. That is not a legal technicality. Obviously, if I considered an application appropriate, I should sooner or later have to put it before the court.
I make no criticism of "The Cook Report". It was an absorbing, fascinating programme on a tragic subject, but it is not evidence in itself. I have more to say about some of the topics with which it dealt. It will be well understood by the House that a media report cannot be the basis for a legal decision in itself. A proper view must be based on an analysis of the underlying evidence and it is in that spirit that I approach the matter tonight.
Before I deal with the matter in detail, I must issue a slight caution. The matter has been looked at enormously carefully; we shall look at it again. I do not want to give false hopes. I do not have a closed mind; I have an open mind.
The scale of the Hillsborough tragedy was enormous. The then Home Secretary responded by establishing a public inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Taylor, now the Lord Chief Justice. It was a painstaking and thorough inquiry which examined not only the events which led to the 95 deaths, not to mention the many serious injuries, but wider issues including safety at football grounds and the need for changes in public order law. The Taylor report placed the blame for the tragedy fairly and squarely on police handling of crowd control at the event. The police have admitted fault and paid compensation.
The Government have responded positively to the report. By August 1994, the vast majority of the 46 clubs in the premier league and first division had all-seater grounds or had closed their last remaining standing accommodation and were working on its conversion to seating. The Government have also set up the Football Licensing Authority which is responsible for keeping under review the way in which local authorities discharge their functions under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.
Column 982The thoroughness of that wider inquiry did not, however, dispense with the legal requirement that an inquest be held in respect of each person who died. That inquest was conducted by Her Majesty's coroner for South Yorkshire in difficult circumstances because of the complications that flowed from the sheer number of deaths; the fact that the Taylor inquiry was proceeding; and the fact that its interim report caused the Director of Public Prosecutions to request a criminal investigation into the police handling of the events. Two points need to be emphasised in relation to inquests generally. First, inquests are not intended to be wide-ranging public inquiries, but serve a specific statutory purpose. The position was carefully explained by the Master of the Rolls in his judgment in the Court of Appeal earlier this year in Regina v The Coroner for North Humberside and Scunthorpe ex parte Jamieson. The Master of the Rolls said:
"An inquest is a fact-finding inquiry conducted by a coroner, with or without a jury, to establish reliable answers to four important but limited factual questions. The first of these relates to the identity of the deceased, the second to the place of his death, the third to the time of death. In most cases these questions are not hard to answer but in a minority of cases the answer may be problematical. The fourth question, and that to which evidence and inquiry are most often and most closely directed, relates to how the deceased came by his death. Rule 36 requires that the proceedings and evidence shall be directed solely to ascertaining these matters and forbids any expression of opinion on any other matter."
The Master of the Rolls went on to add:
"It is noteworthy that the task is not to ascertain how the deceased died, which might raise general and far-reaching issues, but how . . . the deceased came by his death', a more limited question directed to the means by which the deceased came by his death." Secondly, coroners are independent judicial officers. Although the Home Secretary has responsibility for the substance of the law relating to coroners--
It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment lapsed, without Question put.
Motion made, and Question proposed , That this House do now adjourn.--[ Mr. Bates. ]
The Attorney-General: Although the Home Secretary has responsibility for the substance of the law relating to coroners, neither he nor any Minister has power to interfere in their decisions. It is for the High Court and the other appellate courts to determine issues relating to proceedings before coroners courts. One route of access to the High Court is by way of application under section 13 of the 1988 Act and the legislation provides that my authority is required for such application. The existence of that filter reflects the statutory requirement that, in order to justify directing a fresh inquest, there should not only be made out one of the specific grounds mentioned in the statute, such as fresh evidence or irregularity, but circumstances such that the interests of justice require a fresh inquest. The quashing of an inquest verdict and the directing of a fresh inquest is a serious step which may have implications for many persons and organisations whose competing interests therefore have to be considered and balanced. It is not every irregularity or piece of fresh evidence which will justify an application to the High Court.
In recent years--I now come to the question of judicial review--the High Court has developed the doctrine of judicial review so that the vast majority of issues arising from the conduct of inquests may also be considered by
Column 983the High Court, in the exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction, without resort to the procedure under section 13 of the 1988 Act. There is a substantial overlap between the two procedures and that is very sensible.
As I indicated earlier, Mrs. Williams was one of those who, in 1992, made an application under section 13 of the 1988 Act. All the points raised on her behalf were carefully considered. The application on her behalf was thoroughly prepared by a barrister, by counsel. There were three general and procedural matters relied upon. First, it was relied on that the coroner wrongly failed to direct the jury as to the verdicts of lack of care or accidental death due to or "aggravated by" lack of care relating to the negligence of the police which caused the tragedy.
Secondly, it was relied on that the coroner wrongly excluded evidence of lack of care in the emergency services--that is close to what my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby was saying--and the police's reaction to the deceased's initial injuries, wrongly insisted on a cut-off point of 3.15 pm for the evidence heard at the main inquest, and wrongly failed to direct the jury on the availability of a verdict of accidental death by lack of care or lack of care based on the failure of the various responsible agencies to provide the deceased with adequate medical attention after they had sustained their original injuries.
It was also asserted in relation to Kevin Williams that there was evidence to justify the coroner in concluding that he was alive beyond the 3.15 pm cut-off time adopted by the coroner. I pause to emphasise that because anyone who has seen "The Cook Report" knows how important the cut-off time was. I emphasise that that matter was very much before the High Court when it considered the judicial review. Moreover, evidence had emerged subsequent to the inquest to suggest that considerable pressure had been put on two witnesses to retract or qualify their evidence about the signs of life that they described in Kevin Williams after 3.15 pm.
The conclusion that I reached was that none of the matters raised afforded a realistic likelihood of successful application to the High Court. In the event, the applicants proceeded by way of application for judicial review which I have described. It is clear from the judgment of the divisional court that all these points which would have been relied upon in an application under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 were canvassed in those proceedings.
In giving the judgment of the divisional court, Lord Justice McCowan ruled that none of the procedural or technical points raised justified the intervention of the divisional court and then he went on--and I hope that this will be of some comfort--to deal in the following manner with the evidence relating to the death of Kevin Williams:
"We were told that some while after, Mrs. Williams, the deceased's mother, made contact with PC Bruder and WPC Martin and they alleged that they had been pressurised into changing their stories and that they now stuck by their original versions. Where does the truth lie? I see no fault in the coroner in this matter. He made full inquiry. He was not asked by the applicant's representative to do more. There was overwhelming medical evidence that the deceased was in fact dead by 3.15 pm. In my judgment it would not be right to quash the verdicts and order a new inquest on the strength of these allegations made against the investigating police officers."
Column 984Those allegations are of course the same ones which were subsequently repeated in the ITV programme to which my honourable Friend has referred. The divisional court, however, went further and examined a letter written by the pathologist, Dr. Ian West, who also provided an interview for the ITV programme.
The divisional court did question its own authority to look at fresh evidence of that nature on an application for judicial review, but, having done so, it commented that it found the evidence to be of far too tenuous a nature to justify ordering a new inquest. At the conclusion of his judgment, Lord Justice McCowan concluded that the inquest was correctly completed and the coroner's directions to the jury as to the manner in which they should approach the case were impeccable. He added some comments which the House may wish also to consider:
"If I had found such reason and had to exercise my discretion the following matters would have weighed with me. What would be the purpose of fresh inquests? To get a verdict criticising the police? Such criticism has already been firmly levelled by the Taylor Report. The police have admitted fault and paid compensation. To get a verdict criticising the emergency services? I see no evidence to justify such criticism, and in any event it would be irrelevant if all six were brain dead by 3.15 pm. To obtain further examination of the last minutes of their lives? I doubt that anything more would be learned, but the process would be a very harrowing one involving large numbers of witnesses and lasting if not for 96 days, for not far short. Moreover, irrespective of whose fault, if anyone's, it is, the fact is that four and a half years have already passed since the tragedy occurred. As to the alternative suggestion of a mere quashing of the existing verdicts leaving nothing in their place, I would regard that as absolutely valueless.
Mr. Jones says that the families are pursuing this matter because they have a deep instinct to know the circumstances in which their relatives died. I am perfectly prepared to accept that that is their motive and I respect it, but I hope they, for their part, can understand that I have to take an objective view and I have to consider the interests of all concerned including those of all the witnesses who would have to come along five years later and try to cast their minds back to events that they must have been trying to forget. Taking that objective view, and considering the interests of all concerned, I would in my discretion conclude that this was not a case in which it will be right to order fresh inquests."
All that adds up to the fact that it will require really cogent and persuasive fresh arguments if they are now to result in an order by the High Court that there should be a fresh inquest. So far as I have been able to ascertain before today, the evidence referred to in "The Cook Report" did not bring matters forward beyond where they stood at the time of the application for judicial review. Moreover, the court would not have regard, as I have indicated, to "The Cook Report" itself, but it will need to see the evidence in proper form. However, I have made that point.
Sir Malcolm Thornton: Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that at the judicial review--I am referring to paragraph D, page 29 of the judgment--the court was restricted in the main to consideration of evidence available at the time of the inquest and that that meant, for example, that scant regard was paid to the evidence of Dr. West? At paragraph D, page 29, the court simply agreed to look de bene esse at Dr. West's report. The court also admitted the restrictive nature of judicial review proceedings. It conceded, as the Attorney-General has already mentioned, that it had grave doubts as to
Column 985whether it had power to look at fresh evidence which had emerged since the date of the inquests. That is paragraph D, page 30 of the judgment.
I have tried--I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney- General will accept this--to show that the limitations of the judicial review prohibited proper examination of that further evidence and that, under his powers under section 13, there is an opportunity for my right hon. and learned Friend to have a further look at it; it is that which is the basis of my submission and of the evidence which I shall give him tomorrow.
The Attorney-General: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I shall say what I was about to say to my hon. Friend, which is that I will indeed look very carefully at the evidence that he gives me tomorrow, and I will look at it in the context of all the matters that I have dealt with. As my hon. Friend mentioned, although I have a copy of the judgment in front of me, I cannot pick up all the words
Column 986that he said, but I am quite sure that the court did not give scant regard to anything. I am sure that the court looked very carefully. The House will have recognised from what I have said that, although the court was worried as to whether it had power to look at certain evidence, in fact it did, in that curious Latin phrase, de bene esse. It went on to look at that evidence. It did not brush it aside; it looked at it. My hon. Friend and Opposition Members are concerned that I should look carefully once again at what my hon. Friend can put before me, and I assure the House that I will. I caution that it requires very cogent evidence before the matter can be reopened, but I fully understand the concerns of the families and I express my deepest sympathy for them. I shall look carefully at the matter that my hon. Friend can bring forward.
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at twelve minutes past Ten o'clock.
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