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Weekly Edition - Published  02 May 2016

 

Local News Report - Mobile Page

 

Hillsborough Inquest Legacy
Photographs by Patrick Trollope.

THE true nature of what has happened at the Hillsborough disaster has only come to light thanks to the brave determination of many of the families of the victims, survivors and other campaigners who stuck by them.

Ever since the afternoon of 15 April 1989, a dark cloud has been hovering over the deaths of the men, women and children, all of whom had set off on what was a sunny day to see Liverpool FC play in the FA Cup semi-final clash against Nottingham Forest. Sadly, this game ended with 96 fans being crushed to death against metal barriers and fences. That is when the lies appear to have started and a cover-up like no other in the history of the United Kingdom. Not only did the day's events leave fans dead and families bereaved, but the blame was passed on to those fans. It was then to take the determination of the families of those affected 27 years to reveal the real 'truth.'

Eventually the years of work by families of those who died, together with help of survivors and campaigners, lead to new evidence being brought to light. This work was later backed by the hard and painful work of a panel, led by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones. The findings by the 'Panel' in December 2012 lead to the High Court quashing the accidental death verdicts that had been given in the original inquests and ordering new hearings.

The new inquests started on 31 March 2014, and were originally expected to last for 6 to 9 months, but as the evidence grew and grew this was not going to happen. This was to become the biggest ever inquest in the country's history and it took 2 years, nearly 300 days of evidence, from almost 1,000 witnesses. Then, on 25 January 2016, at Birchwood Park, Warrington, Lord Justice Goldring told the jury they would have to answer questions in 14 sections about how the deaths were caused, including a possible verdict of unlawful killing based on whether was responsible for manslaughter, by gross negligence... Everything then would rest on the 14 questions, and on just 6 women and 3 men. On 26 April 2016 the findings were announced. The jury found that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. The inquest's jury concluded this by a 7 to 2 majority. The jury then ruled that fan behaviour did not cause or contribute to the tragedy. More shockingly, they concluded that both the Police and the Ambulance Service caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster by error or omission after the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop. Now the history books will have to be rewritten.

The implications of the verdicts are yet to be realised, but will be far reaching. As possible criminal prosecutions now loom, a new fight will be started. This time, the new inquest has not only changed the way we read the history, but also the image of Liverpool. As the lessons are slowly learned from this, questions now move onto just how to stop something like this ever happening again. As in the words of those at commemoration event that was held on Wednesday, 27 April 2016, on Liverpool's St George's Hall Plateau:- "All they wanted was the truth." The findings will in time affect everything, from the way journalists get information and report, through to the way the emergency services operate and even how the legal system works. The words:- 'Never Forgotten' will forever be associated with the 96 and the survivors, along with their families. This outcome, the families hope, will become a lasting legacy for those who died: a new system that it's hoped will stop things like this ever happening again.

On Wednesday, 27 April 2016, it was amazing to see huge crowds gathering on St George's Plateau and Lime Street for a special event, led by Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson who was joined by family members of the 96. It was a mixture of tributes, music, speeches and moments of reflection looking back at the last 27 years. These are some of the many photographs we took at the event.

The event had 96 lanterns placed outside on the steps, along with a banner with the names those who lost their lives on the 15 April 1989 and the words 'Truth' and 'Justice', displayed above Flowers and scarves, were also left on the lower steps as a tribute.

It was not the only thing that took place, as flags were flown at half-mast on all civic buildings, and the bells at Liverpool Town Hall and Municipal Building rang 96 times. Also iconic buildings across the city were bathed in red light in a show of solidarity for the 96 and their families and, on M62, digital screens had the words:- 'Never Forgotten' as a visual tribute to the 96. The commemoration was concluded with the Sense of Sound choir performing:- 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. This commemoration was very emotive in so many ways. The atmosphere was that of relief, sadness and also joy, all mixed into one. It was a feeling that cannot readily be conveyed to those not attending.

Mayor Anderson said:- "The commemorative event at St George's Hall was our opportunity for the City to come together with the families and campaigners and show the world the overwhelming spirit of comradeship and solidarity that exists in this City towards them. So many people have been touched by their struggle over nearly 3 decades. They are an example to everyone who seeks out truth and justice. This is our way of saying 'thank you' to them and to remember the lives of their loved ones."

Across the water in the Town Halls in Wallasey and Birkenhead, Hillsborough Commemorative Books have been opened for local residents to record their comments for the Hillsborough families.

After the conclusion of the inquests, which upheld that the 96 had been unlawfully killed and that supporter behaviour played no part in the tragic events, Wirral Council leader Phil Davies paid tribute to the determination of the families. Cllr Davies said:- "On this most significant of days in their fight to discover the truth of what happened to their loved ones, our thoughts as ever are with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. The determination and dignity they have shown during their long 27 year campaign is an inspiration for everyone who believes in justice. The books will give Wirral residents the opportunity to pay their own tribute to those who tragically lost their lives and to those who steadfastly fought to protect their memory."

If you want to sign them, they are situated in the foyers of both buildings and will be accessible from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, until 13 May 2016. After that time, they will be given to Liverpool City Council for them to present them to groups representing the families.

Please let us know your thoughts and views on this topic to:- News24@southportReporter.com or post you comment here, on our Facebook Page.

Editorial comment:- "Here at Southport and Mersey Reporter we wish that all involved find a swift closure to the fight ahead and we wish them good luck. It's been a long road, but you have achieved the impossible! We must, as a City, indeed the whole of Merseyside, continue to support them and their efforts..."

We have added audio coverage and an extra report to this news item.  Please click here to access it... (Added on 4 Mar 2016)

Click in here to see more photographs taken at this event.

Click in here to see more photographs taken at this event.

Click in here to see more photographs taken at this event.

We have added audio coverage and an extra report to this news item.  Please click here to access it... (Added on 4 Mar 2016)

 

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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder


  


 

 

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