The jury in new Hillsborough inquest found that it was primarily the police who led to 96 people losing their lives on April 15, 1989. Decades of lies now straightened up, at least a bit.
Is this justice? Surely a lot more justice than the Hillsborough families were offered before. After the groundbreaking report from 2012 that accused police of lies and covering up their own mistakes, jury in the second Hillsborough inquest gave their verdict.
Today’s event brought crowds of family members and friends of those deceased to Liverpool’s court. Since the inquest began in 2013, hundreds of people have testified, including 185 Liverpool supporters who survived the crush at Hillsborough. To give you the exact report we base the remainder of this article on coverage by the greatly reliable and dedicated Liverpool Echo.
The Jury was asked to answer 14 key questions that would help establish the culpability of various parties involved in the tragic match on April 15, 1989. Here are the questions and the responses given:
Do you agree with the following statement: On April 15 1989, 96 people died in the disaster as a result of crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, following the admission of a large number of supporters to the stadium through the exit gates.
Was there any error or omission in police planning and preparation for the semi-final on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “The jury feel that there were major omissions in the 1989 operational order, including specific instructions for managing the crowd outside the LL turnstiles, specific instructions as to how the pens were to be filled and monitored, specific instructions as to who would be responsible for the monitoring of the pens.
Was there any error or omission in policing on the day of the match which caused or contributed to a dangerous situation developing at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “Police response to the increasing crowds at Leppings Lane was slow and uncoordinated. The road closure and sweep of fans exacerbated the situation.” They said no filter cordons were used, no contingency plans made and atempts to close perimeter gates were too late.
Was there any error or omission by commanding officers which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “Commanding officers should have ordered the closure of the central tunnel before the opening of gate C was requested as pens three and four were full.” They said commanding officers should have asked for figures and failed to recognise pens were at capacity.
When the order was given to open the exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, was there any error or omission by the commanding officers in the control box which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “Commanding officers did not inform officers in the inner concourse prior to the opening of gate C.” They said they failed to consider where fans would go and to consider the closure of the tunnel.
Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed? [this answer was crucial as to establish the status of possible crime in this disaster]
ANSWER: YES [cheers and applause in the court]. The forewoman says it was a majority decision. She says seven agreed.
Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?
ANSWER: NO [Claps again from the gallery]. They were asked if behaviour may have caused or contributed. They answered NO.
Were there any features of the design, construction and layout of the stadium which you consider were dangerous or defective and which caused or contributed to the disaster?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “Design and layout of the crush barriers in pen three and four were not fully compliant with the Green Guide.” They said the lack of dedicated turnstiles meant capacities could not be monitored and there were too few turnstiles. Signage to the side pens was inadequate.
Was there any error or omission in the safety certification and oversight of Hillsborough Stadium that caused or contributed to the disaster?
ANSWER: YES. They said the safety certificate was never amended to reflect changes at the Leppings Lane end. The capacity figures were incorrectly calculated and the safety certificate had not been reissued since 1986.
Was there any error or omission by Sheffield Wednesday and its staff in the management of the stadium and/or preparation for the semi-final match on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
ANSWER: YES. The jury said: “The club did not approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles to each pen.” The club did not agree contingency plans with police and there was inaccurate information on the tickets.
Was there any error or omission by Sheffield Wednesday and its staff on April 15, 1989, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed at the Leppings Lane turnstiles and in the west terrace?
ANSWER: NO. They were asked if any error or omission MAY have contributed or caused the dangerous situation. They answered YES. The jury said: “Club officials were aware of the huge numbers of fans still outside the LL turnstiles at 2.40pm. They should have requested a delayed kick off at this point.
Should Eastwood and Partners (structural engineers) have done more to detect and advise on any unsafe or unsatisfactory features of Hillsborough Stadium which caused or contributed to the disaster?
ANSWER: YES. They said: “Eastwoods did not make their own calculations when they became consultants for Sheffield Wednesday FC.” They said calculations were incorrect and Eastwoods failed to recalculate capacities and update the safety certificate after 1986. They said Eastwoods failed to recognise the removal of crush barriers could create a dangerous situation.
After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the police which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
ANSWER: YES. They said the police delayed calling a major incident. There was a lack of communication, coordination and command and control.
After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the ambulance service (SYMAS) which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
ANSWER: YES. They said ambulance officers at the scene failed to ascertain the nature of the problem and the failure to call a major incident led to delays in responses to the emergency.