Hillsborough victims’ families celebrate jury ruling – ESPN FC

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The 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989 were unlawfully killed, the jury in the inquest into Britain’s worst sporting disaster has concluded.

Families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster declared that justice had finally been done as an inquest jury ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police errors.

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 Hillsborough disaster unfolded during Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989, as thousands of fans were crushed at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

The 96 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.

After a jury ruled on Tuesday that the deaths were unlawful, leading Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said: “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.”

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall lost her 18-year-old son in the 1989 disaster.

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.”

Trevor Hicks, president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, lost daughters Sarah and Victoria in the tragedy.

Asked what his daughters would think of his long campaign for justice, he told ITV: “They’d probably think I’m a bit of a silly old fool.

“I like to think that I’ve done my best for them in the event. I’d like to think, well, I’ll say proud. It’s a bit cheeky to say that but I’d like to think that I’ve done my best to make them proud.”

The decision was also welcomed by former Liverpool players as well as politicians.

John Aldridge, who was in the Liverpool team at Hillsborough, wrote: “Fantastic to see the reaction of the families outside the court! Very emotional as well.

“The truth is out AT LAST. Take note all the doubters!!”

Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher tweeted: “Justice finally. #JFT96.”

Ex-Reds boss Rafa Benitez said: “Finally justice!!!! #Hillsborough”

Kenny Dalglish was Liverpool manager at the time of the incident and has been a prominent supporter of the families.

His daughter, sports broadcaster Kelly Cates, posted on Twitter: “The 96 people who were unlawfully killed, the traumatised survivors. It was not your fault. It never was. And we knew that. #TheTruth”

His son, Ottawa Fury head coach Paul Dalglish, added: “One Club. One Voice. Justice for the 96. YNWA.”

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.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had apologised to the families after the 2012 report, wrote on Twitter: “Landmark day as the #Hillsborough inquest provides long overdue justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster.

“I would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage of #Hillsborough campaigners in their long search for the truth.”

On Tuesday, 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.

After the key conclusions were delivered on Tuesday, someone in court shouted: “God bless the jury.”

The jurors were given a round of applause as they left the courtroom.

As relatives of the victims left the building they were met with applause from crowds who had gathered outside the court in support.

The families hugged each other and broke down in tears after emerging from the court.

Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah and Victoria died in the Hillsborough disaster, gives a thumbs up after the verdict.

One man shouted “Justice” while two men held up a red scarf that also read “Justice.”

Others made emotional phone calls to loved ones. Two women jumped up and down overcome with emotion as they embraced.

Many began singing Liverpool’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Criminal investigations into the disaster and claims of corruption in its aftermath could finish by the end of the year, when prosecutors will decide whether to charge any individual or organisation.

The officer leading the police inquiry, Assistant Commissioner Jon Stoddart, said: “Now that the inquests have concluded, my sole focus is on completing the criminal investigation which I expect will be finished by the turn of the year.

“It will then be for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider the evidence and decide whether any individual or organisation should face criminal prosecution.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, the official police watchdog, also expects its investigation — the biggest in its history — to finish in December or January.

Hillsborough victims’ families celebrate jury ruling – ESPN FC