Jury Rules that Hillsborough Deaths Were Unlawful and Blames Police

An inquiry has found the 96 deaths to be the result of "gross negligence" and exonerated fans there on the day of any responsibility.

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26 April 2016, 11:00am

A flag commemorating the 96 dead (via Wikipedia)

Families of those killed at Hillsborough on 15th of April 1989 have been campaigning for justice for 27 years, and today they finally got it. In the question of whether the 96 people who attended a football game at the Hillsborough stadium during the FA Cup semi-final, between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, died unlawfully, a jury responded with 'yes'.

In the proceedings, which are ongoing, the jury had been asked a number of questions regarding whether the fans who died were in part responsible for their own demise. It was decided that due to "gross negligence" by the police and by Sheffield Wednesday Football Club and its staff – the former in their dealing with the situation and the latter with their attitude towards preparing a safe enough environment in the ground – the fans were not in any way responsible for what happened on that day.

In the aftermath of the disaster, blame had been apportioned to the fans by both the South Yorkshire police and The Sun newspaper (in 2012, it admitted what it called its "gravest error" and remains the subject of a Merseyside boycott today). Today, the jury decided that omissions and negligence allowed an excessive amount of people to enter the stadium, which led to crushing. The ambulance service was also named as negligent during the tragedy, as their inability to identify a crisis worsened the already dire situation.

The question with the biggest legal ramifications asked of the jury was Question Six: "Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?"

The coroner, Sir John Goldring, told the jury that they could only answer this question if they believe the South Yorkshire police officer in charge of the event, Ch Supt David Duckenfields, was "responsible for manslaughter". The jury were told this would mean the police's duty of care was breached in such a way that was "so bad, having regard to the risk of death involved" that it was a "criminal act". The jury voted yes on Question Six by a majority of 7-2.

The inquiry was the result of almost 30 years of tireless campaigning by the families of the dead.

The jury adjourned to cheers and cries from the families and survivors, who emerged from the court to meet supporters outside, where they joined in a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone". The next part of the inquest will be a play-by-play dissection of the causes of the deaths. We will update this article when we have more information.

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