The jury at the inquest into the Hillsborough disaster has returned a verdict of unlawful killing of 96 Liverpool fans.
The inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989, which began in March 2014, asked jurors to return verdicts on 14 questions.
Of those, the jury was asked: “Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed? Yes or no.” To which they replied: “Yes”.
On the behaviour of supporters, they were asked: “Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.” They replied “No”.
“Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which may have caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.” The jury also replied: “No”.
The verdicts to all 14 questions were welcomed by the families of the victims and may pave the way for criminal proceedings with evidence to be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by the end of the year.
Speaking outside of the court, lead campaigner and mother of James Aspinall who died in the tragedy, Margaret Aspinall, told the reporters: “The fans should all go home and be proud of themselves, they are the heroes.
“They did nothing wrong that day and we did this for all of them too. Our city always gets brought down but yet again it’s the tough people of Liverpool who have had to fight a cause that was so unjust, so unfair. We’ve done it and we’ve won it and I’m proud of every single one of them.
“I don’t like to get upset but it’s an emotional day. I’ve given everything I can along with the other families over 27 years to get where we are.
“To do what we’ve done and achieved what we’ve done now will help other people who have never had voices who are fighting for a just cause – always have hope, do what the Hillsborough families have done. Stick together. And if I can help anyone I will help them because we’ve received so much help from all the ordinary people.
“When question six came up and we got that unlawful killing… I don’t know if people remember but in the generic inquest under Dr Stefan Popper, when the jury came out with accidental death on 96 innocent people I wrote to him and said ‘Don’t send me my son’s death certificate until I get the correct verdict on it’.
“I can accept it now. I’ve got the correct verdict. We fought for all of these years to get that. We’ve got justice hopefully for those 96. Now let’s see what follows.”
The inquest also raised questions over the safety of the stadium and the effectiveness of the licensing and issuing of the safety certificate.
Responding to the findings, the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) Chief Executive, Karen Eyre-White said: “Sports grounds have been transformed since the tragic events at Hillsborough in 1989. The safety of spectators at sports grounds is our priority and we will review the findings from the inquests carefully.
“We will continue to work with all parties to avoid complacency and ensure the UK remains one of the safest places in the world to watch live sport.”
Alan Coppin, Chair of the SGSA said “The inquests are a reminder about the importance of spectator safety. People should be able to watch live sport without worrying about their safety.
“It is vital that all parties continue to work together and we encourage and remind clubs and sports about the importance of avoiding complacency and keeping spectator safety on the board agenda.”