Relatives of Hillsborough disaster victims to demand inquest today
LONDON, England (AFP) — Families of those killed in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster will today demand new inquests into the 96 deaths, in the wake of a damning report into the tragedy.
Relatives are also calling for an immediate criminal investigation after the report published Wednesday found that police attempted to cover up their failings in the aftermath of the crush on April 15, 1989.
Lawyers representing the families will today write to Britain's Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions outlining their demands, the Hillsborough Families Support Group (HFSG) said after a meeting at Liverpool's Anfield stadium yesterday.
Speaking for the group, Trevor Hicks — who lost his daughters Vicky, 15, and Sarah, 19, in the disaster — said: "This goes beyond Hillsborough. What was exposed on Wednesday was a disgrace to the nation, not just the families.... This goes across society and it's important for society at large not to let this rest."
The Hillsborough Independent Panel report found that senior police officers had mounted a concerted campaign to cover up their errors in the worst disaster in British football history, altering 164 police statements and removing "unfavourable" comments.
The independent panel said that 41 of the 96 who died after being crushed in a trapped crowd of fans might have survived if the emergency services' response had been better coordinated.
South Yorkshire Police has said it is reopening an investigation into its conduct.
"The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel have finally vindicated the families in their 23-year struggle to establish the truth," relatives said in a statement released by HFSG.
"However, after truth must come justice."
The group has taken advice from high-profile lawyers Michael Mansfield QC and Lord Falconer, who appeared at Sunday's meeting via an Internet video link.
"As the families have always believed and insisted, it was the actions and inaction of those in authority that caused the deaths at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989," the statement continued.
"The fans did not contribute to the tragedy. Any blame previously laid at their door has been shown to be part of a despicable conspiracy by those in authority to tarnish the reputations of the dead, the survivors of the disaster and the people of Liverpool. This conspiracy has been revealed for what it is; a bid to avoid accountability.
"Those responsible can avoid accountability no longer."