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Published: 11:33 | 26/4/16

Hillsborough victims unlawfully killed


The jury in the Hillsborough disaster inquest has concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans who died were unlawfully killed.

The disaster occurred during the 1988-89 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when a large number of fans were admitted to the Leppings Lane terrace through exit gates at the stadium.

The jury of six women and three men answered yes to 13 of the 14 questions, including to the question about whether any police error caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the turnstiles, although they ruled that the behaviour of the Liverpool fans did not cause or contribute to the tragedy.

On the day of the tragedy, match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, which allowed fans to flood into the already packed terrace behind the goal.

As part of their deliberations the jury had to consider numerous questions, including the police preparation for the match, policing on the day, how the emergency services responded to the tragedy, the role of South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service and the conduct of Sheffield Wednesday FC on the day.

The juror cleared Sheffield Wednesday of causing or contributing to the situation on the day, but they concluded that the club’s planning for the game could have contributed to the disaster, while officials should have requested a delay in kick-off due to the numbers of fans still outside the ground at 2.40pm.

The original inquests in 1991 ruled the supporters had died accidentally but the families of the victims have campaigned tirelessly to have overturn verdicts. They were quashed on 2012 following the publication of the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

The jury had to answer the following questions:

Question 1:
Do you agree with the following statement: On April 15 1989, 96 people died in the disaster as a result of crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, following the admission of a large number of supporters to the stadium through the exit gates.
Answer: YES

Question 2:
Was there any error or omission in police planning and preparation for the semi-final on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
Answer: YES

Question 3:
Was there any error or omission in policing on the day of the match which caused or contributed to a dangerous situation developing at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?
Answer: YES

Question 4:
Was there any error or omission by commanding officers which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
Answer: Yes

Question 5:
When the order was given to open the exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, was there any error or omission by the commanding officers in the control box which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
Answer: YES

Question 6:
Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?
Answer: YES - the jury found that David Duckenfield was responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence of those 96 people.

Question 7:
Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?
Answer: NO

Question 8:
Were there any features of the design, construction and layout of the stadium which you consider were dangerous or defective and which caused or contributed to the disaster?
Answer: YES

Question 9
Was there any error or omission in the safety certification and oversight of Hillsborough Stadium that caused or contributed to the disaster?
Answer: YES

Question 10:
Was there any error or omission by Sheffield Wednesday and its staff in the management of the stadium and/or preparation for the semi-final match on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
Answer: YES

Question 11:
Was there any error or omission by Sheffield Wednesday and its staff on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed at the Leppings Lane turnstiles and in the west terrace?
Answer: YES

Question 12:
Should Eastwood and Partners (structural engineers) have done more to detect and advise on any unsafe or unsatisfactory features of Hillsborough Stadium which caused or contributed to the disaster?
Answer: YES

Question 13:
After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the police which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
Answer: YES

Question 14:
After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the ambulance service (SYMAS) which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
Answer: YES

Reacting to the verdict, the Football Association said: "The FA reaffirms its deep sorrow and regret that these tragic events, which occurred at one of its fixtures, led to the loss of life of 96 football supporters on 15 April 1989.

"The FA’s sincere condolences remain with the families and friends of the victims.

"They have conducted themselves with great dignity throughout these Inquests, during which there has been an exhaustive investigation of the horrific circumstances that took place 27 years ago.

"Ultimately, the Inquests stand as testament to the struggle undertaken by the families so the truth might be brought to light.

"While much has changed since 1989, The FA and English football in general must continue to recognise, remember and learn from the tragedy. In looking forward, it is important we never forget.

"Given the ongoing criminal investigations, there are limitations to what we can say. It is in the interests of all concerned that further consideration of the disaster by the relevant authorities must be allowed to take its course."

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