NEWS
12/09/2012 12:11 BST | Updated 12/09/2012 12:28 BST

Hillsborough Tragedy: Families of 96 Liverpool Fans Say Victims Can 'Rest In Peace'

Vindication for the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough means the dead can rest in peace, families have said, but their loved ones will continue to pursue criminal action against those involved in a "depraved" cover-up.

Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters in the 1989 disaster, vowed to seek justice through the courts against those named in the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

He said: "The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow."

Campaigners were outraged after Wednesday's report revealed that 41 Liverpool fans crushed in the Hillsborough tragedy might have survived if the ambulance service had been able to attend to them.

Hillsborough Family Support Group member Margaret Aspinall, the mother of Hillsborough victim James Aspinall, during a press conference at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral

The panel said those victims were either alive after 3.15pm - the coroner's cut off time - or suffered injuries inconsistent with the findings of the pathologists.

Panel member Dr Bill Kirkupp said: "Twenty eight people had definite evidence that they didn't have obstruction of the bloodflow, 16 people had definite evidence of heart and lungs continuing to function for a prolonged period after the crush.

"In total 41 therefore had evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15.

"What I can't say is how many of them could, in actuality, have been saved.

"But I can say is that, potentially, it was in that order of magnitude."

All 96 of the inquest verdicts into the fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster should now be quashed and an inquiry called into the deaths, a campaigner Sheila Coleman urged.

She told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "Of course (the apology) is welcome, because it is an acknowledgement that Liverpool, the bereaved families and the fans have been telling the truth for years and yet have been considered liars."

She added: "Without doubt the inquest verdicts have to be quashed. David Cameron batted this back to the Attorney General.

"The Attorney General needs to surely, with the evidence presented to him today and the evidence previously presented to him, must quash the inquest verdicts in all cases.

"With the clear evidence that fans could have been saved - and the evidence is there - he needs to give all of those 96 victims their right under law, the right to a fair hearing. It needs a full inquiry into how they died."

Hillsborough Family Support Group members Jenny Hicks (2nd left), Margaret Aspinall (2nd right) and Trevor Hicks (right)

Asked if she believed criminal charges should now be brought, Ms Coleman said: "I do, because all the evidence today shows that South Yorkshire Police and people in South Yorkshire Police lied and operated a cover-up."

Responding to the apology of Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, whose newspaper printed a front page feature blaming the Liverpool fans, Mr Hicks said: "The man is a lowlife. A clever lowlife, but a lowlife."

Sophie Kemp of the Public Law team at Kingsley Napley said she believed a new inquest was highly likely: "The Attorney General will now independently decide whether to ask the High Court to hold a fresh inquest.

"The court will quash the original inquest verdict if there is a real risk that justice has not be done.

"Given David Cameron's statement about new evidence and admission that failings were made by the state, the High Court is almost certain to agree to a new inquest into the deaths of Hillsborough victims."

Hillsborough Independent Panel members (from left to right) Raju Bhatt, Sarah Tyacke, Paul Leighton CBE, Peter Sissons, Bishop of Liverpool The Right Reverend James Jones (Chairman), Professor Phil Scraton, Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, Christine Gifford and Katy Jones

Liverpool FC's captain Steven Gerrard said: "The courage and dignity shown by the Hillsborough families and survivors is an example to all of us.

"For 23 years they have fought for truth and justice on behalf of the victims and survivors of this terrible tragedy and all Liverpool supporters.

"Victims and survivors suffered not just on April 15, 1989 in Sheffield, but for over two decades afterwards with the shameful slandering of their actions by people who abused their position and power.

"Speaking as someone whose family directly suffered, I know the pain and hurt will remain. However, I hope that today's report helps bring some comfort, now that everyone knows what happened on that day."

Dave Prentis, leader of Unison, said: "If there is one lesson that should be learnt from Hillsborough, it is that never again should grieving relatives be left to live the nightmare of not knowing the truth.

"It has been cruel and inhumane that they have had to fight to get the truth of what happened to their loved ones.

"We hope that releasing the files will ease their suffering and help to bring some closure. And there is now absolutely no excuse to delay further inquests into the remaining victims."

The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson echoed the call for fresh inquests and said those involved in the cover-up should be brought to account.

He said: "It is absolutely clear for everyone to see that those affected were victims not only of a terrible event, but also of an unforgivable miscarriage of justice.

"They were aided and abetted by some sections of the media, who should now apologise for misleading the nation and smearing the reputation of Liverpool FC fans and the city.

"It is to the credit of families that they have never given up on their quest to find out what happened on that dreadful day.

"Now that we finally have the truth of what happened in 1989, we must make sure the families get the justice they deserve.

"I am calling on the Attorney General to apply to the High Court immediately to quash the original inquest verdicts so that a fresh inquiry can be held.

"Furthermore, those who played a role in the cover up should be brought to account for their deceit and corruption.

"The people of Liverpool will stand shoulder to shoulder with the families as we seek to make sure they get justice they have sought for so long.

"We will never forget the impact Hillsborough disaster had on the bereaved families, on the lives of those who were caught up in the disaster and the long journey the entire city has had to endure for the truth to be heard."

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham looks on as Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, on the Hillsborough report

Andy Burnham, the Labour MP for Leigh who as culture secretary set up the panel, said there had been a "monumental cover-up" and a "sickening campaign of vilification against the victims".

"It comes far too late for many of course but finally the full horror of Hillsborough has been revealed.

"A catalogue of negligence, appalling failure and sheer mendacity. A tragedy that should have been prevented, lives that should have been saved.

"Devastating truths made far worse not better for the passing of time; the crude 3.15pm cut-off, with no legal, medical or moral justification; parents only hearing today what happened to their children - because people whose job it was to protect them then turned against the victims and the bereaved to protect themselves.

"A monumental cover-up and a sickening campaign of vilification against victims, grieving families, traumatised survivors and the city in shock."

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram, who was at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster and whose constituency is home to Liverpool FC, said today was "momentous".

"Finally we have the undeniable truth, a truth we know now means many innocent people who could and should have been saved, a truth that unequivocally confirms Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster and drink was not a significant factor," he told the Commons.

"A truth that both vindicates and validates the 23-year campaign for truth and justice, despite the criticism levelled at us as a self-pity city. That we were right, there was a deliberate attempt to shift the blame, to instigate a cover-up at the very highest level.

"It is not about retribution, it is about responsibility. Today, we have made history but now we must change history."

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