COPS could face criminal prosecutions after a jury ruled 96 Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed – giving justice to families 27 years on.
PA/GETTYTRAGEDY: Panic engulfed Hillsborough in 1989 and hundreds were at this year's memorial service
Bereaved families erupted into tears, screams, claps and chanting today as the six women and three men gave their verdicts after a historic two-year hearing.
In the aftermath, the Crown Prosecution Service announced a potential criminal case, Hillsborough cops admitted getting it "wrong" and families demanded the South Yorkshire Police chief constable's sacking.
Assistant Commissioner Jon Stoddart, the chief officer at Operation Resolve which is spearheading a criminal investigation, said: "It will then be for the CPS to consider the evidence and decide whether any individual or organisation should face criminal prosecution."
PAA VICTORY: Families of the 96 chanted and sung outside the court
The gravity of the monumental ruling could also provoke calls for a police inquiry into the actions of Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield that day.
In a damning indictment of the police's preparations, it could even lead to a gross negligence manslaughter investigation.
The crucial sixth question, of 14 put by the coroner, regarding the fans being "unlawfully killed" was answered by the jury with a resounding "yes".
Liverpool fans were crushed to death on the Leppings Lane terraces at Sheffield Wednesday's ground during an FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
CLICK HERE to see the families sing You'll Never Walk Alone outside the court
PAINQUESTS: The two-year hearing heard details about all 96 victims
“We have changed a part of history now”Margaret Aspinall, mum of Hillsborough victim James
Leading Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said afterwards: "Let's be honest about this – people were against us.
"We had the media against us, as well as the establishment.
"Everything was against us. The only people that weren't against us was our own city. That's why I am so grateful to my city and so proud of my city.
"They always believed in us.
"I think we have changed a part of history now – I think that's the legacy the 96 have left."
REUTERSSCREAM: This Hillsborough victim relative shouted 'justice' after the hearing
At the emotional and climactic conclusion in Warrington, the jury had to give "yes" or "no" answers to 14 crucial questions which together made up the verdict.
Emphatically, the jury foreman answered a damning YES to 13 out of the 14 questions.
The implications of question six will rock the country's police forces.
As jurors answered "yes", people in the public gallery screamed and one shouted: "Thank you, thank you."
Former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy told the BBC after: "Today is all about the families, it's about them getting justice and, through this whole process of the inquests, finding out the detail behind the death of their loved ones."
GETTYU-TURN: The 1991 accidental deaths ruling was quashed
Crowds later linked hands outside the court chanting and singing a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Justice For The 96".
The coroner temporarily adjourned the final hearing to allow families to digest the magnitude of the news.
One man walked out of the doors shouting: "Justice".
Labour politician and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who fought the justice campaign for families when in Government, said the case has been "one of the greatest miscarriages of justice of our time."
PAJUSTICE: A relative holds up victim Keith McGrath's photo
South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton said: "South Yorkshire got the policing catastrophically wrong."
He added: "The force failed the victims and their families.
"Today, as I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and those affected."
He concluded: "We will now take time to carefully reflect the implications of the verdict."
GETTYAPOLOGETIC: Police chief constable David Crompton said Hillsborough victims were failed
DAILY STARQUESTION TIME: The 14 decisions the inquests jury had to make
An 11-page statement, written on behalf of the families of 22 victims, asked for Mr Crompton's sacking.
It reads: "Now is the time for consequences. The criminal investigations must be allowed to take their course and we hope and urge that prosecution decisions can be taken soon.
"We have called for the resignation or removal the sacking of the current chief constable of SYP and we have called for remedial measures to be imposed on SYP to ensure systems are put in place to require them to stay subject to the law and to prevent them from putting themselves before the truth.
"The story of Hillsborough is a story of human tragedy but it is also a story of deceit and lies, of institutional defensiveness defeating truth and justice.
"It is evidence of a culture of denial within SYP. All that must be brought to an end. Only then can we truly lay our loved ones to rest."
GETTYFIGHT: Lawyers for the families have asked for the South Yorks police chief to be sacked
An original inquest ruled the fans were killed in accidental deaths in 1991.
But that ruling was quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report after a long campaign by families of the dead.
Fans united for the last major Hillsborough memorial service at Anfield earlier this month.
Hillsborough inquests: 96 victims were unlawfully killed
On 15th April 1989, 96 men, women and children were killed during a crush at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest after overcrowding at the 54,000 seat stadium. Here we remember the victims who lost their lives and the tragic events that occurred.
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Relatives of Hillsborough victims show their emotions as they depart Birchwood Park after hearing the conclusions of the Hillsborough inquest
“We have changed a part of history now”Margaret Aspinall, mum of Hillsborough victim James
The new inquest, which began at a specially built courtroom in Warrington on March 31, 2014, has heard evidence from around 1,000 witnesses.
Dozens of relatives attended each of more than 300 days in court at Bridgewater Place on the Cheshire town's Birchwood business park.
At the inquest, the coroner made it clear that none of the victims should be blamed for their deaths.
GETTYRECORD: It's been the longest jury proceedings in British history at Bridgewater Place
The Hillsborough jurors concluded the inquest yesterday by confirming they had answered a 14-strong questionnaire, which included the questions about police planning, stadium safety and the emergency services' response.
Before the jury were sent out on April 6, they were told to answer yes to question six if they were sure match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died in the disaster and that he was in breach of that duty of care.
Thirdly, they would need to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and, fourthly, that it amounted to "manslaughter by gross negligence".
Bournemouth and Liverpool skippers lay wreath to mark Hillsborough disaster anniversary
BOURNEMOUTH skipper Tommy Elphick lead the Dean Court tributes to Liverpool fans who died during the Hillsborough disaster.
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Dean Court pays tribute to Hillsborough victims
GETTYSPOTLIGHT: David Duckenfield, the Chief Supt who gave the order for the exit gates to be opened Related videos
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Family members shared moving and personal stories.
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Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, allowing around 2,000 fans to flood into the already packed central pens behind the goal.
The inquests heard how Mr Duckenfield, who once claimed that Liverpool fans broke into the stadium, had no "recent experience" before taking charge on that fateful day.
Fans were accused in the aftermath of the disaster of urinating on emergency services, on other victims and of being drunk.
GETTYWELCOMED: Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre
Tracey Church, who lost her brother Gary in the disaster, said this afternoon: "It's surreal. I feel emotional, shaken, happy, sad – all mixed emotions."
Liverpool's chief executive officer Ian Ayre said the club will "always remember the selfless bravery and heroism of the many fans that helped their fellow supporters in the most harrowing of circumstances that day".
In a statement, he said: "Liverpool Football Club welcomes the jury's decision, once and for all, that our supporters were not in any way responsible for what happened at Hillsborough.
"We praise those who, since the beginning of the inquest, have had to find the courage an strength to re-live what they went through.
"It has been a painful journey for the families and survivors, who have endured and sacrificed so much for so long.
"The resilience and dignity they have shown throughout their tireless campaign has been humbling and inspirational.
"Their conduct and actions throughout their struggle has brought pride to the city of Liverpool and will serve as a lasting online tribute to the victims.
"The 96 men, women and children whow ere unlawfully killed and Hillsborough will never be forgotten."
GETTYDISASTER: Hillsborough is still the home of Sheffield Wednesday FC
Philip Richardson, current managing director of Eastwood & Partners - the consulting engineers at the time for Sheffield Wednesday FC, who the jury concluded failed to advise the club of unsafe features of the stadium - also apologised for their failures.
Mr Richardson said: "We fully respect the inquest's findings and will study them carefully.
"We would like to say sorry on behalf of the company at that time and to add our deepest sympathies to all those affected by this tragedy.
"We would also like to add that we are a very different company today and there is no-one here who has any first-hand knowledge of the stadium design decisions concerning Hillsborough in the 1980s.
"This was a terrible, tragic incident that will never be forgotten and out of the disaster there has come a legacy of improved stadium safety throughout the country."Related articles
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