Liverpool fans attend the 27th annual memorial service for the 96 people who died during a crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield at Anfield, in Liverpool, UK on April 15, 2016. Reuters pic
Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a deadly crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests had concluded yesterday.
After a lengthy campaign by victims' families, the inquest jurors ruled by a 7-2 majority that the fans had been unlawfully killed, finding police commanders had made mistakes in the build-up to the match and on the day itself.
The jury absolved Liverpool fans of any role. The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground on April 15, 1989.
The coroner, John Goldring, had told jurors that to return an unlawful killing verdict they would have to be sure that Chief Supt David Duckenfield, the police commander in charge at the match, was responsible for “manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care.
Duckenfield had, in fact, told the inquest he had lied about fans forcing a gate open, and acknowledged that his failure to close an access tunnel had directly caused the loss of lives.
The inquest verdicts of “unlawful killing”, which could pave the way for prosecutions, were greeted with a mix of cheers and tears by relatives of the victims, who sang the Liverpool fans’ anthem “You’ll never walk alone” outside the court in Warrington in northern England.
The fans, many of them young, died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at the Hillsborough ground in Sheffield, northern England, at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on a sunny spring afternoon. It was one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.
Britons were shocked by harrowing images of supporters crushed against metal fences, bodies lying on the pitch and spectators using wooden advertising hoardings as makeshift stretchers.
The tragedy changed the face of English football. Banks of terracing and metal fences around pitches disappeared, replaced by modern, all-seated venues and better security.
The two-year inquest finally delivered the answer families had waited a quarter-century to hear after an original inquest, since quashed in the light of fresh evidence, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
A blatant miscarriage of justice! For twenty-seven years!