Hillsborough disaster: 96 were 'unlawfully killed', jury concludes
By Mike McCarthy, Sky News
Last Updated: 27/04/16 4:53pm
The 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, an inquest jury has concluded - and police have admitted they got it "catastrophically wrong".
The jurors ruled that the behaviour of fans did not cause or contribute to the tragedy, which happened when supporters were crushed before an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
The unlawful killing conclusion, reached by a majority of seven to two of the jurors, was greeted with sobbing and cheers at the hearing in Warrington, Cheshire.
Emotional families, many of them in tears, sang the Liverpool anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' outside the court during a break in proceedings and chanted "justice for the 96".
Lawyers acting for relatives of the victims said the jury's findings had completely vindicated their 27-year fight for justice.
The Crown Prosecution Service has said it will "formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body", while Home Secretary Theresa May will appear before MPs on Wednesday to set out the Government's response
In order to reach a verdict of unlawful killing, jurors had to be convinced that the 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.
Third, they also had to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths, and fourthly, that it amounted to "gross negligence".
Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, allowing around 2,000 fans to pour into the already packed central pens behind one of the goals.
The jurors had to reach decisions on a total of 14 questions about the disaster that were put to them before they began their deliberations at the end of the longest jury hearing in British legal history.
As part of their deliberations, they had to consider a range of questions covering police preparation for the ill-fated FA Cup semi-final, policing on the day, the response of the emergency services, management of the stadium by Sheffield Wednesday FC, and the behaviour of fans.
They concluded that both the police and the ambulance service caused or contributed to the loss of lives by an error or omission after the crush had started to develop.
The jurors also unanimously found that the policing of the game caused or contributed to a dangerous situation developing at the turnstiles.
They ruled that commanding officers also caused or contributed to the crush, as did those senior officers in the police control box when the order was given to open the exit gate at the Leppings Lane end.
After the key conclusions were delivered, someone in court shouted "God bless the jury", and the jurors were applauded as they left the courtroom.
The original inquests in 1991 ruled the supporters had died accidentally, but the families vowed to overturn the verdicts.
This happened in 2012 with the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton, speaking outside court, says his force "unequivocally" accept the conclusion of unlawful killing and wider findings of Hillsborough Inquests.
"I want to make it absolutely clear that we unequivocally accept the verdict of unlawful killing and the wider findings reached by the jury in the Hillsborough Inquest," Crompton said.
"On [April] 15, 1989, South Yorkshire Police got the policing of the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough catastrophically wrong. It was, and still is, the biggest disaster in British sporting history.
"That day, 96 people died and the lives of many others were changed forever. The force failed the victims and their families. Today, as I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected."