A verdict has been reached in the 27-year-old Hillsborough incident that left 96 Liverpool fans dead.
After nearly three decades of controversy, families of those killed finally got some validation.
“AFTER 27 LONG YEARS THE TRUE VERDICT HAS FINALLY BEEN DELIVERED, CONFIRMING WHAT THE FAMILIES ALWAYS BELIEVED – THEIR LOVED ONES WERE UNLAWFULLY KILLED”
Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC CEO
Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s CEO, spoke on the matter earlier today.
For those unfamiliar with the incident, 96 fans were crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium on April 15th 1989 during an FA Cup semifinal. At the time, the media blamed the fans for the disaster and accused them of being hooligans.
In reality, a myriad of factors contributed to the deaths but fans and hooligans were NOT one of them.
Families of the victims have been on a 27 year campaign to prove that fan behavior was not the cause of this tragedy, which is contrary to the narrative that’s been spread by the media since 1989.
Here’s a summary of the 14 major points that the 9 member jury deliberated during this inquest (from the Liverpool Echo live feed):
- Do you agree with the following statement which is intended to summarise the basic facts of the disaster: “Ninety-six people died as a result of the Disaster at Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989 due to crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, following the admission of a large number of supporters to the Stadium through exit gates.” YES
- 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? YES – “The jury feel that there were major omissions in the 1989 operational order, including specific instructions for managing the crowd outside the LL turnstiles, specific instructions as to how the pens were to be filled and monitored, specific instructions as to who would be responsible for the monitoring of the pens.
- 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? YES – The jury said: “Police response to the increasing crowds at Leppings Lane was slow and uncoordinated. The road closure and sweep of fans exacerbated the situation.” They said no filter cordons were used, no contingency plans made and atempts to close perimeter gates were too late.
- Was there any error or omission by commanding officers which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace? YES – The jury said: “Commanding officers should have ordered the closure of the central tunnel before the opening of gate C was requested as pens three and four were full.” They said commanding officers should have asked for figures and failed to recognise pens were at capacity.
- 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? YES – The jury said: “Commanding officers did not inform officers in the inner concourse prior to the opening of gate C.” They said they failed to consider where fans would go and to consider the closure of the tunnel.
- Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?YES – majority decision (7-2)
- Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?” NO – They were asked if behaviour may have caused or contributed. They answered NO.
- 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? YES – The jury said: “Design and layout of the crush barriers in pen three and four were not fully compliant with the Green Guide.” They said the lack of dedicated turnstiles meant capacities could not be monitored and there were too few turnstiles. Signage to the side pens was inadequate.
- Was there any error or omission in the safety certification and oversight of Hillsborough Stadium that caused or contributed to the disaster? YES – They said the safety certificate was never amended to reflect changes at the Leppings Lane end. The capacity figures were incorrectly calculated and the safety certificate had not been reissued since 1986.
- 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? YES – The jury said: “The club did not approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles to each pen.” The club did not agree contingency plans with police and there was inaccurate information on the tickets.
- 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? NO – They were asked if any error or omission MAY have contributed or caused the dangerous situation. They answered YES. The jury said: “Club officials were aware of the huge numbers of fans still outside the LL turnstiles at 2.40pm. They should have requested a delayed kick off at this point.
- 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? YES – They said: “Eastwoods did not make their own calculations when they became consultants for Sheffield Wednesday FC.” They said calculations were incorrect and Eastwoods failed to recalculate capacities and update the safety certificate after 1986. They said Eastwoods failed to recognise the removal of crush barriers could create a dangerous situation.
- 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? YES – They said the police delayed calling a major incident. There was a lack of communication, coordination and command and control.
- 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? YES – They said ambulance officers at the scene failed to ascertain the nature of the problem and the failure to call a major incident led to delays in responses to the emergency.