Foot­ball’s worst tragedy, Liver­pool fans vin­di­cated


In 1989, the worst foot­ball tragedy oc­curred at Hills­bor­ough soc­cer sta­dium in which 96 men, women and chil­dren died. Af­ter 29 years an in­quest has de­liv­ered its ver­dicts on a se­ries of key ques­tions. It has been the longest case heard by a jury in Bri­tish le­gal his­tory. The jury’s find­ings in­cluded that the 96 Liver­pool fans who died in the Hills­bor­ough dis­as­ter were un­law­fully killed, ju­rors con­cluded by a 7-2 ma­jor­ity. The match com­man­der Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent David Duck­en­field’s ac­tions amounted to “gross neg­li­gence” due to breach of his duty of care to fans. The po­lice plan­ning er­rors caused or con­trib­uted to the dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion that de­vel­oped on the day of the dis­as­ter.

Pete Weatherby, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing some of the be­reaved fam­i­lies, told a Hills­bor­ough Jus­tice Cam­paign news con­fer­ence: “The jury has vin­di­cated the long, long jour­ney of the fam­i­lies to ob­tain jus­tice and make those re­spon­si­ble for the dis­as­ter ac­count­able.”

Weatherby said there had been “con­certed at­tempts to cover up” what hap­pened and paid trib­ute to the “dig­nity and tenac­ity” of the fam­i­lies in their bat­tle for jus­tice. “The dis­as­ter was en­tirely avoid­able and caused by cat­a­strophic hu­man fail­ure,” he said, fo­cus­ing on what he called “a cat­a­strophic polic­ing fail­ure by South York­shire Po­lice.”

Weatherby said the fam­i­lies had been forced to en­dure “lies by se­nior of­fi­cers and vile abuse in parts of the me­dia” in the years af­ter the tragedy in what he said was “a cul­ture of de­nial writ large.”

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