Hillsborough Jury Verdict: Victims were unlawfully killed

The Jury had to decide about possible police blame and other factors in the April 1989 crush

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The Hillsborough inquest jury reached a verdict at 11am today, indicating in a majority decision that the 96 victims of the disaster were unlawfully killed. 

At the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest held at Hillsborough stadium on the 15th of April 1989, 96 people, aged between 10 and 67, tragically died.

Today, after a wait of 27 years, relatives of the lost loved ones were given the very complex verdict of the jury, on what events led to 96 men, women and children heading out to an FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989 and never returning home.

The verdict came in the form of 14 answers to questions about the events leading up to and during the disaster, followed by a formal recording of the time and cause of each individual victim’s death.

The jury had to answer yes or no to 13 questions.   They said yes both to the question on whether there was any error or omission in the police planning and preparation for the semi-final match, and if there was any error or omission in policing on the day of the match, as well as error or omission by the police once the crush had developed. They also confirmed that there was error or omission by commanding officers that lead to the crush, including the decision to open the exit gates at Leppings Lane.

The jury determined that the behaviour of fans did not contribute to the disaster.

The layout and design of the stadium was deemed to have contributed to the disaster, as well as the management and preparation of the stadium by Sheffield Wednesday FC. The actions of Sheffield Wednesday FC on the day were also deemed to have contributed.

The South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service was also deemed to have caused or contributed to the loss of lives, starting with a failure to recognise the crisis.

13 decisions were made unanimously. The verdict on whether the 96 people were unlawfully killed by gross negligence manslaughter was left to a majority decision.

To opt for unlawful killing, the coroner Sir John Goldring told the jury that they had to be satisfied that the South Yorkshire police chief superintendent in command at the match, David Duckenfield, “was responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence of those 96 people”.

The new inquest began in 2009 when the Labour government minister at the time, Andy Burnham, called for the police, ambulance and others to release evidence that wasn’t available in original inquest in 1989. The Hillsborough Independent Panel formed which concluded in 2012 that Liverpool fans weren’t responsible for the deaths and authorities had attempted to cover up the truth.

20 year old Dizzy Bagley has lived in Liverpool all her life. She asked us, “If this had happened to Chelsea fans, would it have taken 27 years for the truth to come out?

“So much of the problem is that Scousers are treated like we’re all hooligans. I’m glad the poor families can finally mourn the deaths of their families properly.

“So many more apologies are owed to the victims and families besides the one from the police. Even though there is finally a correct verdict, it doesn’t erase what happened.”