The 96 Liverpool football fans who died in Britain’s worst-ever sporting disaster, the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium crush, were unlawfully killed, with police failures to blame, a jury hearing inquests into the deaths concluded on Tuesday.
The victims, many young, died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, northern England, at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on a warm, sunny afternoon in April 27 years ago.
Harrowing images of young fans crushed against metal fences, bodies lying on the pitch and spectators using wooden advertising hoardings as makeshift stretchers horrified the nation.
The Hillsborough tragedy, which happened within minutes of kick-off, changed the face of English football. Banks of terracing and metal fences around pitches disappeared, replaced by modern, all-seated venues and better security.
It also led to a cover-up by police who initially accused aggressive, drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans of being responsible by forcing their way into the stadium.
New inquests were ordered in December 2012 when London’s High Court quashed accidental death verdicts from 21 years earlier after an independent inquiry found new evidence and absolved the fans of any responsibility.
The jury overseeing the new inquests ruled that the fans had been unlawfully killed and that police commanders had made mistakes in the build-up to the match and on the day itself, the BBC reported.
They also absolved Liverpool fans of any role in causing the crush.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it was considering whether criminal charges should be brought against individuals or any corporate body.