Hillsborough Inquest Verdict

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

The jury in the Hillsborough Inquests yesterday returned its conclusions after hearing evidence for the last 2 years.

The jury found that match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care and that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.

The jury also concluded:

  • Police errors caused a dangerous situation at the turnstiles
  • Failures by Commanding Officers caused a crush on the terraces
  • There were mistakes in the police control box over the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates
  • Defects at the stadium contributed to the disaster
  • There was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough Stadium
  • South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service delayed declaring a major incident
  • The emergency response was therefore delayed
  • Sheffield Wednesday failed to approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles for each pen
  • There was inadequate signage at the club and misleading information on match tickets
  • Club Officials should have requested a delay in kick off as they were aware of a huge number of fans outside shortly before the game was due to start

The conclusions come more than 27 years after the disaster.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was co-operating with two investigations into possible criminal offences committed by police officers and others leading to the deaths and the alleged police cover-up afterwards. That could lead to a prosecution of David Duckenfield, the police officer who was in charge of crowd safety on the day of the FA Cup Semi-Final.

In reaching a verdict of unlawful killing over the deaths, the inquest jurors had to be convinced that the Chief Superintendent owed a duty of care to those who died, that he was in breach of that duty and that the breach amounted to gross negligence.

Suing the police continues to be a difficult area of law but this case shows some evidence of the police and other state or corporate bodies having to be held accountable for their actions.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, the charity who have supported the bereaved families and their lawyers responded to the conclusion of the inquest: “Today, not a day too soon, the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy have finally received justice. For nearly three decades, the bereaved families and survivors of Hillsborough have been failed repeatedly at multiple levels by investigative and judicial processes….This inquest, the longest in modern history, was a response to those investigative and judicial failures, and its outcome amounts to redress for a long standing historical wrong….As a result, what we have seen is a powerful expose of state and corporate failings on the part of those responsible for the safety of those in the stadium, in particular the 96 who died”.

Elaine Prewer – one of our specialist Personal Injury Lawyers has considered the Verdict and said “We are pleased that the Police are finally being held accountable for their actions on that fateful day and investigations into any police cover up will now follow. It seems that for too long corporate and state bodies have been able to evade answering difficult questions. Retiring from the police force is no longer an escape for them. The outcome is a true illustration of the importance of access to justice. As we have found here at Attwaters Jameson Hill, bereaved families can often be prejudiced from obtaining justice from state and corporate bodies simply due to a lack of funding. Thankfully the bereaved families in the Hillsborough inquest had access to Exceptional Funding by way of Legal Aid in order to bring about this monumental decision. Through accessing Exceptional Funding for our own clients we have seen the way it assists in rebalancing the power between the parties”.

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