Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hillsborough Disaster

Memory: Hillsborough now has 96 white seats decorated with roses and messages for the victims
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster.

The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush that occurred on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, during the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs, which resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 766 others. The incident has since been blamed primarily on the police for letting too many people enter the stadium, and remains the worst stadium-related disaster in British history, and one of the world's worst football disasters.

There was an influx of Liverpool supporters as a tunnel entrance was left unmanned by police, causing crushing, and some fans climbed over side fences or were lifted by fellow supporters onto the stand above to escape the crush. Moments after kick-off, a crush barrier broke, and fans began to fall on top of each other. The game was stopped after six minutes. To carry away the injured, supporters tore down advertising hoardings to use as stretchers, and emergency services were called to provide assistance. Of the 96 people who died, 14 were admitted to hospital. When the FA Chairman visited the Control Box to find out what had happened, Duckenfield, the constable in charge, falsely claimed that the supporters had "rushed" the gate.

The 1990 official inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report, concluded that "the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control." The findings of the report resulted in the elimination of standing terraces at all major football stadiums in England, Wales and Scotland.

On the 20th anniversary of the disaster, government minister Andy Burnham called for the police, ambulance and all other public agencies to release documents that had not been made available to Lord Justice Taylor in 1989. This action led to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which in September 2012 concluded that no Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths, and that attempts had been made by the authorities to conceal what happened, including the alteration by police of 116 statements relating to the disaster. The facts in the report prompted immediate apologies from Prime Minister David Cameron; the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton; Football Association Chairman David Bernstein; and Kelvin MacKenzie, then-editor of The Sun, for their organisations' respective roles (The Sun had blamed fans for the crush, claiming they urinated and beat up 'hero officers').

In September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded that up to 41 of the 96 fatalities might have been avoided had they received prompt medical treatment. The report revealed "multiple failures" by other emergency services and public bodies that contributed to the death toll. In response to the panel's report, the Attorney General for England and Wales, Dominic Grieve MP, confirmed he would consider all the new evidence to evaluate whether the original inquest verdicts of accidental death could be overturned. On 19 December 2012, a new inquest was granted in the High Court, to the relief of the families and friends of those who died at Hillsborough.

Horrific: Liverpool fans in the Leppings Lane End crush tried to escape to the upper tier that fateful day