The Hillsborough Independent Panel today released its long awaited report into the infamous disaster, in addition to a catalogue of previously withheld documents.
96 Liverpool fans died, and 766 people were injured, after a crowd crush at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on the 15th of April 1989.
The report found that 41 of 96 could have lived if the response of emergency services had been better, stating that “the disclosed documents show clear and repeated evidence of failures in leadership and emergency response coordination.”
Further to this it was found that 164 of the original police statements about the day were subsequently altered, 116 of which to remove or alter criticism of the police. Prime Minister David Cameron today apologised for the “double injustice” suffered by Liverpool fans.
In a statement today Chief Constable David Crompton of South Yorkshire Police admitted that senior officers had tried to blame fans for the disaster in what amounted to “disgraceful lies.”
The various allegations against fans in connection with the disaster, levelled most notoriously by the Murdoch owned Sun newspaper, are roundly refuted by the report which found “no evidence among the vast number of disclosed documents and many hours of video material to verify the serious allegations of exceptional levels of drunkenness, ticketlessness or violence among Liverpool fans.”
Today’s report vindicates the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which is made up of bereaved families and survivors who have campaigned for 23 years for truth and justice.
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, told AP news agency: “This is what the families and the fans have been fighting for 23 years. Without the truth, you cannot grieve and where there is deceit, you get no justice.”
Thousands of people gathered outside St Georges Hall in the city center this evening for a vigil to remember the 96 who died.
“The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow.”
The Attorney General will now have to decide whether to overturn the original inquest verdicts of “accidental death.” Talking to the BBC Sheila Coleman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign was unequivocal: “without doubt the inquest verdicts have to be quashed.”
The full report and catalogue of documents are available to download from the Hillsborough Independent Panel website.