On 26th April 2016 the longest running inquest in British legal history returned its verdicts. The jury were asked to answer 14 questions in deciding how 96 people died at the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield on 15 April 1989.
The Inquest considered the events that took place during the FA Cup semi-final and in the immediate aftermath. The jury were asked to rule upon the actions of the Police, Liverpool supporters, the South Yorkshire Ambulance Service and those who were responsible for the design and operation of the stadium, including Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
The inquest followed the 1990 inquiry into the disaster which was conducted by Lord Justice Taylor and the original coroner’s inquest in 1991. The first inquest returned a controversial verdict of accidental death.
Since the disaster the families of the 96 have worked tirelessly to campaign for justice for their loved ones and as a result of their determination and commitment to finding the truth it became apparent that key documents and information had not been released by various public agencies. In January 2010, the Hillsborough Independent Panel was formed by the government in order to conduct a second inquiry.
The panel was established to oversee the release of the documents relating to the disaster that had not previously been available to Lord Justice Taylor or in the 1991 coroner’s inquest.
In 2012 the Attorney General ordered the verdict of the inquest in 1991 to be quashed.
Over the last 3 years, Ruth Bundey, a Partner at Harrison Bundey Solicitors, together with her legal team, have been involved in the second inquest and have been representing some of the families involved.
The Jury, upon returning their answers to the questions put before them, found that the 96 Liverpool fans that tragically lost their lives during the disaster were unlawfully killed. The Jury further found that the Liverpool fans present on that fateful day did not at all contribute to the disaster.
Steve Rotheram, the MP for Liverpool Walton has stated that the families involved should never have had to wait so long for the truth to be provided.
Operation Resolve and the Independent Police Complaints Commission are now currently investigating potential criminal charges which may arise in relation to individuals and/or organisations conduct at the time of the incident and subsequently.