Hillsborough inquests conclusions

26 April 2016

The jury at the Hillsborough inquest has found that the 96 people who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed and cleared Liverpool supporters of any blame. Here are the full findings of the General Questionnaire for Jury Determination.

Pete Weatherby QC,  Mark George QC,  Kate Stone and Andy Fitzpatrick of Garden Court North Chambers, along with Henrietta Hill QC of Doughty Street, were instructed by 22 Hillsborough families –  20 represented by Elkan Abrahamson of Broudie Jackson Canter, and 1 each by Terry Wilcox of EAD Solicitors and Anthony Higham of Butcher and Barlow LLP Solicitors.

Following the jury’s decision those 22 Hillsborough families issued this Press Release in which the following observations were made:

  • The jury’s conclusions have vindicated the long, long journey of the 96 families who have striven tirelessly for 27 years to obtain the truth, obtain justice and make those responsible for the Hillsborough disaster accountable. That struggle was only necessary because of the gross negligence of senior police officers and the concerted attempts to cover-up responsibility for the disaster.
  • The Hillsborough disaster was entirely avoidable as the jury has found. It was no accident, it was no natural phenomenon, it was caused by catastrophic human failure, a failure to learn from past warnings and near misses, a failure of the Club, the engineers, the licensing authorities to ensure a safe stadium and safe operation of that stadium, and a failure of the ambulance service to react competently to the emergency, but above all it was a catastrophic policing failure for South Yorkshire Police were responsible for public safety on that day, 15 April 1989.
  • Those catastrophic failures caused the deaths of 96 people, 96 innocent football supporters. But immersed in the tragedy of the deaths of so many of their loved ones, the families were then to be subjected to lies by senior officers covering up their role, vile abuse in parts of the media, and a campaign to blame supporters and so to avoid accountability for those really responsible. And unfortunately in these proceedings we witnessed a strong campaign by ex-­senior officers continuing to deny responsibility, by South Yorkshire Police joining in blaming supporters and failing to be true to admissions they publicly made after publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in 2012. The ambulance service too: a legacy organisation, chose to try to minimise failings and their effect by the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service despite admissions made again after HIP and admissions made by senior officers in the witness box. Not only did this continued campaign to deny the truth cause great distress to the families, ignore the guidance of the High Court when it ordered new inquests but it also hugely lengthened these proceedings. What we have witnessed is public authorities led by people who put defence of the institution over the truth, over learning for the future and over serving the public. We have witnessed a ‘culture of denial’ writ large. The families and all of us in the general public deserved better and we hope the conduct of the public authorities will be given the greatest scrutiny in the coming days and weeks.

Media Coverage of the conclusions includes:

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