Families of the 96 football fans who died in a crush at Hillsborough Stadium have been campaigning for justice for 27 years. This morning, as the Jury revealed their findings, they were finally provided the closure and justice that they have sought.
The jury, who have heard evidence over the past two years, decided that the actions of the match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckinfield amounted to gross negligence and a breach his of duty of care to the fans.
Conclusions reached by the jury also determined that police errors caused a dangerous situation to unfold at the turnstiles and then there were subsequent failures by commanding officers which led to a crush on the terraces. Mistakes were also made in the police control box through the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates.
There was an error in the safety certification of Hillsborough Stadium, and as such, defects at the stadium contributed to the disaster.
The police also delayed declaring a major incident and the emergency response, including the ambulance service, was also delayed.
The behaviour of the Liverpool fans at the stadium was exonerated as the jury found that they did not contribute to the dangerous situation at the turnstiles.
A response to the conclusion of the Inquest was given by Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST, the charity who has provided support to the bereaved families of the Hillsborough disaster:
“…For nearly three decades, the bereaved families and survivors of Hillsborough have been failed repeatedly at multiple levels by investigative and judicial processes. These were concerned more with an instinct to evade blame and responsibility than the need to deliver truth and accountability. The grief and suffering of generations of family members and survivors has thereby been exacerbated.
This inquest, the longest in modern history, was a response to those investigative and judicial failures, and its outcome amounts to redress for a long standing historical wrong. This was only possible because the bereaved families were able to play an effective part in the process and because they had access to public funding for specialist lawyers in order to recalibrate the inherent imbalance ordinary members of the public face when dealing with powerful state and corporate bodies.
As a result, what we have seen is a powerful expose of state and corporate failings on the part of those responsible for the safety of those in the stadium, in particular the 96 who died.
…The practice of deflecting blame and responsibility following contentious deaths persists, and the legacy of Hillsborough must be to put an end to this culture. Those in authority who have responsibility for doing so must guarantee that, wherever and whenever proper scrutiny is required to right a wrong, families and victims are given the necessary resources – financial, legal and emotional – to seek truth, justice and accountability. It is the least they deserve.
If there is one lesson to be learnt today it’s that no family should suffer the way the 96 Hillsborough families have in the future.”
INQUEST provides specialist advice on deaths in custody or detention or involving state failures in England and Wales. This includes a death in prison, in police custody or following police contact, in immigration detention or psychiatric care. INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and they work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths. To read more about the work of INQUEST and their campaigns, please visit their website:- http://www.inquest.org.uk/
If you have lost a loved one, we understand that the following investigation and Inquest proceedings can be upsetting and difficult to navigate. Here at Southerns Solicitors, our specialist team can help to guide you through the process providing you and your family with the support that you require. Call a member of our team for advice:- http://www.southernslaw.co.uk/contact/