University of Liverpool students who analysed more than 20,000 documents to support lawyers representing the families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster have won a prestigious national award for their work.
The award, from the LawWorks and Attorney General Law Awards, comes in the same week that Lord Justice Goldring, acting as Assistant Coroner to South Yorkshire, begins to hear new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster on 15 April 1989.
Students at the University’s Liverpool Law Clinic have been playing an important part in the preparations for the new inquests. Local firm, Broudie Jackson Canter, under the leadership of Elkan Abrahamson, is instructed by 20 families bereaved in the disaster and entered into a partnership with the Clinic in December 2013.
The students’ initial task was to sort through papers compiled by Anne Williams, who campaigned for 24 years to establish the truth about the death of her son, Kevin, who died at Hillsborough, aged just 15.
Anne died shortly after the new inquests had been ordered, but as part of her legacy she left thousands of documents amassed during the years of her campaign. The Clinic sorted, catalogued , analysed and assessed the documents for relevance, duplication and legal professional privilege.
The Liverpool Law Clinic is the University’s flagship in-house legal practice operating within the School of Law and Social Justice and throughout the project, the students were working under the supervision of the Clinic’s in-house legal team of qualified lawyers.
Clinic solicitor, Christine Ball, commends the student’s approach to this work. She said: “The students displayed considerable diligence and professionalism whilst undertaking this highly sensitive task.
“Their dedication enabled the legal team to comply with deadlines which would have been impossible to meet without the students’ assistance.”
Since completing this task, four teams of students at the Clinic have been asked to carry out on-going work related to the inquest.
Working alongside Elkan Abrahamson is a team of barristers led by Pete Weatherby QC who wrote enthusiastically in support of the students’ nomination for the Awards and summed up by saying: “They have assisted us to prepare a case of almost unprecedented complexity and size which is of considerable interest and importance to many people; but most significantly to our clients who have campaigned for 25 years to receive justice for their loved ones.
“These proceedings represent their last and best opportunity to achieve that and the work of the students at the Liverpool Law Clinic is assisting us to work towards that end.”