The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush that caused the deaths of 96 people and injured 766 others, at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England, on 15 April 1989.The match was the 1988–89 FA Cup semi-final, with Hillsborough, home ground of Sheffield Wednesday, selected as a neutral venue. In English football, most stadiums had steel fencing between the spectators and the playing field in order to prevent friendly and hostile pitch invasions. The crush occurred in pens in the Leppings Lane stand, allocated to Liverpool fans.
The 1990 official inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report, concluded that “the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.”Entry was possible only via one of seven decrepit turnstiles, a restriction that led to dangerous overcrowding outside the ground before kick-off. In an attempt to ease pressure outside the ground, Police Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the senior police officer responsible for the match, ordered an exit gate to be opened. The opened exit gate led to a tunnel marked “Standing”, which led directly to the two already overcrowded enclosures. In previous years the tunnel had been closed off by police when the two central pens were full; however, on this occasion the tunnel was unmanned. The findings of the report resulted in the elimination of standing terraces at all major football stadiums in England, Wales and Scotland. It remains the worst stadium-related disaster in the history of English sports, and one of the world’s worst football disasters.
Fast forward 2016, after twenty seven years,the jury insists that police errors caused the death of the 96 Liverpool fans and they will face criminal charges.Families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster have declared that justice has finally been done as an inquest jury ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police blunders.Lawyers acting for the families said the conclusions, at the end of the longest jury case in British legal history, had completely vindicated their tireless 27-year battle for the truth.The deaths were ruled accidental at the end of the original 1991 inquest. But those verdicts were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report, which concluded that a major cover-up had taken place in an effort by police and others to avoid the blame for what happened.The new jury concluded that blunders by the police and ambulance service on the day had “caused or contributed” to the disaster and that the victims had been unlawfully killed.The jury forewoman wiped away tears and had a catch in her voice as she confirmed the answers to 14 questions about the disaster to coroner Sir John Goldring.
Leading Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said afterwards: “Let’s be honest about this – people were against us. We had the media against us, as well as the establishment.”Everything was against us. The only people that weren’t against us was our own city. That’s why I am so grateful to my city and so proud of my city. They always believed in us.”Surrounded by a sea of camera crews and reporters outside the court, she added: “I think we have changed a part of history now – I think that’s the legacy the 96 have left.”
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Labour MP Andy Burnham, who has supported the campaign, said: “This has been the greatest miscarriage of justice of our times. But, finally, it is over.”South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton has said his force “unequivocally” accepts the verdict of unlawful killing and the wider findings reached by the jury.He added: “As I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.”The jurors were told they could only reach the unlawful killing determination if they were sure of four “essential” matters concerning the deaths at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.They had to be convinced match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died, and that he was in breach of that duty of care.Thirdly, they would need to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and, fourthly, that it amounted to “gross negligence”.They concluded it was unlawful killing by a 7-2 majority. The jury also ruled that fan behaviour did not cause or contribute to the tragedy.