Hillsborough inquest rules the 96 were ‘unlawfully killed’ after 27 years of families fighting for justice

After 27 years, justice has finally been given to the 96.

The Hillsborough Inquest panel ruled that the 96 Liverpool fans who were crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium in a 1989 FA Cup semifinal were “unlawfully killed” and not accidental as originally reported. In addition, the panel ruled that Chief Superintendent at Hillsborough David Duckenfield’s actions were considered “gross negligence” that led to the deaths of the 96.

The panel was given a list of 14 questions to answer to determine what exactly happened at Hillsborough and who was to blame. The panel ruled that there were omissions in police planning leading up to and during the disaster, that the 96 were unlawfully killed and it wasn’t their behavior that contributed to the disaster and that the stadium not being up to code with updated capacity figures along with the decision of not delaying the kickoff also contributed to the disaster.

After the verdict, families of the victims celebrated the ruling they had long desired after 27 years. They went outside singing Liverpool’s team anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Politician Andy Burnham released a statement about the ruling. After being the first politician to attend the Hillsborough Memorial Service after 20 years and seeing fans go against him singing “Justice for the 96,” Burnham got the wheels going for a new inquest seven years ago that led us to where we are today. Burnham said,

“This has been the greatest miscarriage of justice of our times. But, finally, it is over. After 27 long years, this is real justice for the 96, their families and all Liverpool supporters. The survivors of this tragedy can finally be remembered for what they were on that day – the heroes of Hillsborough who tried to help their fellow fans.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel gave us the truth. This Inquest has delivered justice. Next must come accountability. For 27 years, this police force has consistently put protecting itself above protecting those hurt by the horror of Hillsborough. People must be held to account for their actions and prosecutions must now follow.

Disgracefully, lawyers for retired police have attempted to continue the cover-up in this courtroom. They made it an adversarial battle in defiance of the Lord Chief Justice’s ruling. This has been brutal on the Hillsborough families and put them through hell once again. The current leadership of South Yorkshire Police needs to explain why it went back on its 2012 apology at this Inquest, prolonging the agony for the families.

The sense of relief we feel is tempered by the knowledge that this day has taken far too long in coming. The struggle for justice has taken too great a toll on too many. But the Hillsborough families have at long last prevailed and finally their loved-ones can rest in peace.”

Today, this was greater than any Liverpool victory on the field. This was more important than soccer. This is what happens when a group of people did what they believed in, when everyone (government, media, other people) told them they were wrong and needed to move on, because it was the right thing to do and the only way to honor their loved ones. These families have devoted the last 27 years on fighting what they felt was injustice because they felt there was really no other option and anything else would be letting their loved ones down. Before every Liverpool home game, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is played throughout Anfield but the families of the 96 took that to heart and after 27 years, they finally got the thing they have been fighting for, justice.

[Liverpool Echo]

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp