It has emerged that survivors and the families of those who died during Hillsborough are to sue South Yorkshire and West Midlands police forces for ‘abuse on an industrial scale’.
‘Abuse on an industrial scale’
Lawyers acting for the hundreds of people directly affected by the 1989 disaster have said that they have now launched legal proceedings against both forces. The firm involved have declared that they are taking legal action for the “cover up and actions intended to wrongly blame the deceased and Liverpool Football Club supporters for the tragedy, for which there has still been no proper admission or apology”. They hope to
96 – Unlawfully killed
On Tuesday of this week (26th April 2016), following a 2 year inquest – the longest in British history – jurors determined that the 96 victims of the disaster were unlawfully killed. For 27 years there were claims that the fans of Liverpool FC were to blame, however jurors at the inquest unanimously agreed that the behaviour of fans did not contribute whatsoever to the tragedy that unfolded on that day:
‘Police errors in planning, defects at the stadium and delays in the emergency response all contributed to the disaster. The behaviour of fans was not to blame.’
They decided that match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield had a duty of care to fans in the stadium that day and that he was in breach of that duty.
The jurors concluded that this breach amounted to gross negligence and therefor the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.
The men and women of the jury also determined:
• Defects at the stadium contributed the disaster
• There was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough stadium
Police chief suspended
Following Tuesday’s verdict, the South Yorkshire Police chief constable, David Crompton, was suspended. In part, due to his conduct during the inquest.
West Midlands police now face legal action regarding claims that officers in the force changed the statements of some Liverpool FC’s fans in the wake of the disaster.
Furthermore, the Crown Prosecution Service has stated that they are cooperating with two investigations into potential criminal offences committed by police officers and other individuals that may have led to the deaths of the 96 victims. The CPS has also confirmed that they are cooperating with an investigation into the alleged police cover-up afterwards.
Hillsborough – An overview
96 men, women and children died as a result of severe crushing at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA cup semi-final match between Liverpool Football Club and Nottingham Forrest.
• The match on the 15th April 1989 was sold out, with over 53,000 fans from both clubs arriving at the stadium for the planned 3pm kick off.
• The Leppings Lane end of the stadium was the smaller section of the stadium and had been allocated to the Liverpool supporters, despite the club having a larger group of fans than Nottingham Forrest.
• Fans begin to arrive at Leppings Lane at around 12pm and only seven turnstiles were opened to allow more than 10,000 fans into the standing terraces. At the time, such terraces were divided into ‘pens’ – high fences put in place to separate fans from the pitch.
• By 2.50pm, the two ‘pens’ behind the goal, pens 3 and 4, were at max capacity, whilst the other two pens either side – which were relatively empty – were badly sign posted.
• Police errors led to a dangerous situation with crowding outside the Leppings Lane end.
• By 2.59pm as more and more fans were guided into the two pens already full, severe crushing started to occur.
• At 3pm, the match kicked off and a few minutes later a crush barrier in pen 3 collapsed, causing fans to fall on top of one another.
• Supporters started to climb the fences to try and escape the crush. Some fans were hauled to safety by fans situated in the upper tiers.
• Survivors have told of how they witnessed other fans losing consciousness, many as they were crushed up against the wire fences and each other.
• At 3.06pm the referee stopped the match on the orders of Superintendent Roger Greenwood.
• Fans attempted to administer first aid to the injured, ripping up advertising hoardings to use as makeshift stretchers.
• Police delayed declaring a major incident. Ambulances were dispatched to the stadium, but access was delayed due to police reporting ‘crowd trouble’.