The Hillsborough tragedy 'should never have happened'

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The Hillsborough Independent Panel has released its findings today. Photo: Press Association

The Hillsborough Independent Panel's 396-page report includes the following key findings:

Despite serious problems at previous semi-finals at Hillsborough, the modifications made to the stadium actually increased the dangers at the Leppings Lane end. "The risks were known and the tragedy in 1989 was foreseeable".

"The orginal pathologist's evidence of a single and unvarying pattern of death is unsustainable". The pathologist's determination that all those who died that day were dead by 3.15pm was wrong. "In some cases death was not immediate and the outcome depended on events after 3.15pm".

Referring to those injured, the report says: "In 31 cases the heart and lungs continued to function after the crush and in 16 cases this continued for a prolonged period". Clearly this calls into serious question the coroner's original assertion that all those who died that day had expired by 3.15pm."

Fans try to escape overcrowding at Hillsborough. Credit: Press Association

Determined efforts were made to shift blame onto Liverpool fans. "The origin of these allegations was a local Sheffield Press Agency informed by senior South Yorkshire Police officers, an South Yorkshire Police spokesman and a local MP. The police federation, supported informally by the South Yorkshire Police's chief constable, sought to develop and publicise a version of events alleging drunkenness, ticketless fans and violence."

"South Yorkshire Police sought to deflect responsibility onto Liverpool fans". Not only did South Yorkshire Police order officers to make substantive amendments to their statements, but South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service documents were subject to a similar process.'

Floral tributes outside Anfield before the official memorial service at Liverpool's Anfield stadium, to mark the 20th anniversary. Credit: Press Association

"The flaws in responding to the emerging crisis on the day were rooted in institutional tension within and between South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Wednesday FC". The report paints a picture of a police force predominantly concerned with preventing disorder and a football club detemined to keep down costs.

The following sentence, perhaps, best sums up the panel's findings: "The tragedy should never have happened. There were clear operational failures in the response to the disaster and in it's aftermath, a strenuous attempt to deflect blame onto the fans"