Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Hillsborough tragedy families' anguished wait comes to an end

Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape severe overcrowding
Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape severe overcrowding
Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape severe overcrowding
Debbie Routledge, a survivor in the Hillsborough stadium disaster 1989
Fans on the pitch at Hillsborough. FA Cup semi final April 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. 96 football fans lost their lives in Britain's worst stadium disaster
Fans receiving attention on the pitch. Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield will always bear the scar of England's worst football tragedy. On April 15th 1989, 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives having gone to watch their side contest an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest
Gill and Brian Caldwell being crushed against the fence in the Liverpool enclosure at Hillsborough
Fans crushed against the perimeter fence at Hillsborough
An injured fan receiveing attention on the pitch
An injured fan sits against the goalpost with his leg in a splint
Fans recieving medical attention on the pitch
Hillsborough disaster policeman looks at a pile of police helmets lying on pitch amongst debris
Police shielding injured fans at Hillsborough
Kevin Williams stretchered off on the Hillsborough pitch during the Hillsborough disaster
Injured fans lie on advertising boards which were used as makeshift stretchers
Victims at the Hillsborough football disaster, 1989
Victims at the Hillsborough football disaster, 1989
Bent and twisted fencing at Hillsborough in the aftermath of the tragedy
A distraught young Liverpool fan in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, his wife Marina and daughter Kelly during the memorial service for the victims of the Hillsborough Tragedy.
Scarves and floral tributes laid at Anfield
Scarves and floral tributes at Hillsborough
A young boy adding to the floral tributes at Anfield's Shankly gates
A message written on a wall remebering the Hillsborough disaster victims
Andrew Devine, coma victim of the Hillsborough football disaster
Hillsborough disaster victim Andrew Devine who is now communicating by pressing a micro switch
Margaret Thatcher at Hillsborough
Anfield fans leave flowers in the nets
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
A sea of flowers at Hillsborough stadium, in memory of the Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough
Hillsborough Memorial
A Liverpool supporter holding a banner
Fans and players observe a minutes silence at Hillsborough
Liverpool's Xabi Alonso wearing a black armband in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The Hillsborough memorial is covered with tributes at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club on September 10, 2012 in Liverpool, England. On Wednesday relatives and friends of the 96 victims will see the full disclosure of all documents relating to the disaster when they are made public at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Hillsborough Independent Panel will today release 400,000 pages of previously unpublished official documents relating to the disaster

The Hillsborough Independent Panel has been overseeing the release of the papers from around 80 organisations including the Government, police, emergency services, Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire coroner.

The families of the 96 football fans who died in Britain's deadliest sporting disaster will be the first to see documents from 8am.

Later, Prime Minister David Cameron will address MPs in the House of Commons and the documents will be uploaded to a website for viewing by the general public.

A report explaining the contents of the documents will be published by the panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones.

The 96 Liverpool supporters died in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15 1989 where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

A report into the disaster by Lord Justice Taylor, published in 1990, found that the main reason for the disaster was a failure of "police control" but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

The victims' families say it is an injustice that no individual or organisation has been held fully accountable for the disaster. They believe a major incident plan was never initiated by South Yorkshire Police and fans in the Leppings Lane end were denied emergency medical attention.

The families also dispute the findings of an inquest into the deaths, which ruled that the victims were all dead, or brain dead, by 3.15pm and which subsequently recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said they hope the documents will answer some of the questions they have about the causes and aftermath of the tragedy.

"This is what the families and the fans have been fighting for 23 years. Without the truth you cannot grieve and where there is deceit, you get no justice," Mrs Aspinall, 65, said.

The families will see the documents at Liverpool Cathedral and are being advised by two of Britain's best known lawyers, Michael Mansfield QC and Lord Falconer.

It is expected the families will meet in the coming days to decide what action to take, if any, following the disclosures.

The panel was created by then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith following the 20th anniversary of the disaster in April 2009.

Central to the panel's work is to prepare and publish a comprehensive report based on in-depth research into the documents to "add to public understanding of the tragedy, its circumstances and its aftermath".



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