A new police investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster has been announced by the Home Secretary.

Former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart will lead the new inquiry, which will focus specifically on the 96 deaths of Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

The move comes after a damning report from the Hillsborough independent panel laid bare a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf."

Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit investigators and staff to his team, but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster. He is also unable to recruit any officers or former officers who worked in the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.

Mr Stoddart will also work closely with the previously announced Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster. He said: "I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation. My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.

"I have held a number of meetings already and have been struck by the families' humility and steadfast determination to see justice delivered for their loved ones. My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies."

The new investigation could lead to criminal prosecutions and for serving police officers it could also lead to misconduct proceedings, the Home Secretary said in a written ministerial statement.

Mr Stoddart will principally investigate the deaths at Hillsborough, while the IPCC will principally investigate the aftermath of Hillsborough. The investigations will be integrated, working from the same office in Warrington, Cheshire. In addition to announcing the new investigation, Mrs May also revealed that a Liaison Board will be established to bring together all organisations working on behalf of the Hillsborough families.

The announcement was released ahead of a High Court application by Attorney General Dominic Grieve to quash the original accidental death inquest verdicts for the 96 fans killed in the crush at Hillsborough.