On the 26 April 2016, a 27 year struggle for truth by the families of of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough Stadium on the 15th of April 1989 heard the inquest into the Hillsborough stadium disaster conclude that the 96 fans had been unlawfully killed.
The inquest was asked to pass a verdict on 14 questions of which question 6 and 7 were seen as crucial-
Are you satisfied , so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed? Answer Yes
Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the turnstiles? Answer No
15 April The worst disaster at a British Football ground took place at Hillsborough at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
16 April Kenny Dalgleish talking to the Observer notes that football is irrelevant when something like this happens. Dalgleish, who was manager of Liverpool at the time, played a huge role in helping the community and the club both through the day and in the aftermath of the tragedy. He and others has supported the families fight for answers throughout the 27 years.
17 April Jeremy Seabrook writing in the Guardian noted ‘ We were caged in like animals in zoo’ and the importance of Liverpool Football Club to the people of Liverpool and those at Hillsborough on that day was being displayed in ways that confounded the most seasoned footballers and football managers.
1 August Lord Justice Taylor’s interim report blames police mismanagement and criticises South Yorkshire police.
January Lord Taylor final report published recommending a fundamental rethink of the safety and maintenance of British football grounds. It rejected the idea of ID cards and brought in an era of all seater stadiums.
30 August The Crown Prosecution Service decides that their is insufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings.
October South Yorkshire police admit negligence, failed in its duty of care and settles civil claims made by families.
19 November First inquest opens in Sheffield.
28 March inquest returns a majority verdict of accidental death.
25 April Ian Taylor writes to Lord Justice Taylor suggesting that the £100,000 allocated to the modernisation of football stadia does not bode well. The treasury eventually makes £100 million available to the Football Trust to modernise football grounds.
29 October Police commander on the day of the stadium disaster retires from the police on medical grounds.
13 January Disciplinary action against the control box commander at Hillsborough is dropped.
5 November A judicial review application to revue the inquest verdict is rejected.
8 July Sir Bernard Ingham letter states that to blame the police even although they made mistakes is contemptible.
5 December The government of the day orders the scrutiny of new evidence and it is found that 164 police officer accounts of the incident had been changed. The home secretary did not believe their was sufficient evidence for a new enquiry.
13 February Lord Justice Stuart Smith rejects any grounds for prosecutions or quashing of the inquest verdict.
August The Hillsborough Family support group mount a private persecution against the match commander and others.
24 July The jury does not reach verdict on the match commander who exercised the right not to give evidence.
12 April The Guardian highlights the families ongoing grievances and complaints of injustice. Then labour Ministers Andy Burnham and Maria Eagle call for the documents relating to the disaster to be published.
15 April Burnham’s speech to the 20th anniversary memorial service at Anfield is interrupted by shouts of justice for the 96.
December Launch of the Hillsborough independent panel with a remit to to make the documents public.
12 September The panel publishes its report, police failings are highlighted, the government of the day orders a new criminal inquiry. Operation resolve , the Independent police complaints commission launches an investigation.
19 December The verdict in the first inquest is quashed .
31 March The new inquest begins in Warrington. This becomes the longest case heard by a jury in British legal history.
26 April the jury delivers an unlawful killing verdict.
Talking about the verdict Dalgleish states:
” Well it can only be a pleasure for the families who have endured 27 years trying to get to the point that they knew should have been there 27 years ago. The way they have gone about getting to this point has been unbelievable – their humility, the way they’ve conducted themselves, their dignity and the determination to get what they thought was justice and the belief from them that the supporters were in no way, shape or form, to blame. You’re pleased that they’ve won this but on the other hand it’s taken 27 years out of their life, what they gave for their life and their families’ life. It’s fantastic news for them and it’s news that they thoroughly deserve”
Sport is not above the law but at the same time the law needs to be accountable to those it passes verdict on. In all of the 27 years from 1989 to 2016, least we forget, what forged this campaign was the honesty, humanity and solidarity of the football families and the football community which new that injustices had been carried out and which refused to let nothing but the truth be the final verdict.