Justice served 28 years after Hillsborough

Justice is often slow, and for the families of 96 Liverpool fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster it was painfully slow, taking more than 28 years for criminal charges to be brought against six men.

They followed two investigations -- the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Operation Resolve -- at a cost of more than $100 million and then another investigation that resulted in a jury verdict of unlawful killing in 2016.

Police and security officials were blamed for what happened at the 1989 FA Cup match between Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool. Fans suffocated after police opened an exit gate in an effort to relieve congestion outside the stadium, sending 3,000 fans into an already crowded section of the stadium with a capacity of 1,600. Fans were crushed or trampled in the resulting chaos.

Some law enforcement officials blamed the disaster on unruly fans, a myth that was spread in the news media, notably the tabloid Sun. It took years for families to get the record corrected -- that their loved ones weren't at fault and law enforcement was to blame for the deaths and resulting cover-up.

South Yorkshire Police's former chief superintendent David Duckenfield, the match commander, faces 95 counts of manslaughter for gross negligence -- he cannot be charged for the 96th death that occurred four years after the disaster -- Graham Mackrell, the former Sheffield Wednesday secretary, is accused of breaching health and safety laws while the four other men face charges of misconduct or obstruction of justice in the resulting investigations.

"There will be six people facing criminal charges who might not have done if we hadn't been resilient and all stuck together and fought this long fight," said Trevor Hicks, who lost two teenage daughters at Hillsborough. "There are no winners in this. It doesn't bring anybody back from the disaster but it sends a message of accountability out as we keep saying that nobody, but nobody, is above the law -- be it the police or anybody else."

It took years for the families to get back the reputations of their sons and daughters killed on April 15, 1989, and that was reflected in the word of Marcia Willis-Stewart, a lawyer who spoke on behalf other families: "The families are sensitive to the issues of fairness and due process and no one wishes to prejudice or to jeopardize it."
1 comment about "Justice served 28 years after Hillsborough".
  1. Gus Keri, June 30, 2017 at 4:55 p.m.

    Minor correction: the game was between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium.

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