Calls for essential prosecutions in the wake of inquiry into worst ever football disaster
Twenty three years after 96 Liverpool FC fans were crushed to death at the Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield during an FA Cup semi-final, a report has revealed a major cover-up by the authorities.
Now there are calls for ‘essential prosecutions’ from ex-chief constable Richard Wells, who led South Yorkshire Police from 1990-1998 and campaigners.
Wells said charges were ‘absolutely essential’ as the law has been broken.
The damning report into the disaster found police changed 116 statements criticising their handling of the accident to instead blame fans for the crush and that 41 out of the 96 dead could have survived if they had been given better medical care.
At the time the original coroner’s inquest into the deaths imposed a time of death 3.15pm cut-off point and said there was a ‘single, unvarying and rapid pattern of death in all cases’, but both this and the eventual verdict of ‘accidental death’ was challenged by many families.
All the bodies of the deceased, including those of children aged as young as 10, were tested for alcohol and many had their backgrounds checked in an effort to smear their names.
David Cameron apologised yesterday in the Commons, saying it was a ‘double injustice’.
He added they had suffered both in the ‘failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth’ and in the efforts to suggest the victims were ‘somehow at fault for their own deaths’.
Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun also offered his ‘profuse apologies’ for the notorious front page headline ‘the Truth’ which published an untrue story painting the Liverpool fans in a highly negative light. .
Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost his two teenage daughters in the crush, confirmed relatives would now seek the prosecution of those responsible. ‘The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow’ he said, adding that he wanted to see new ‘proper, fair and honest inquests’.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve is considering the new evidence to decide whether to refer the disputed accidental death inquest verdicts back to the High Court.
The 96 fans died after the Leppings Lane terraces became overcrowded during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham forest in April 1989.
Police opened an exit gate which allowed more supporters to enter the already full terraces, causing crushing.
This later led to a change in the design of football stadiums, with most becoming seating-only.