Hillsborough families vindicated after 27-year wait for justice

Families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster have finally received justice after fresh inquests ruled they were unlawfully killed.

The longest inquests in English legal history blamed police for the supporters' deaths and absolved fans of any wrongdoing on 15 April 1989.

The police are now following two criminal investigations into the Hillsborough disaster.

The names and ages of those who died will be read out at a memorial service outside St George's Hall in Liverpool on Wednesday.

Theresa May, the home secretary, paid tribute to the "extraordinary dignity and determination" of victims' families in their fight for the tribute.

"Quite simply, they have quite simply, never given up," she said in a Commons statement.

Relatives embrace after the rulings. Credit: PA Wire
Families sing You'll Never Walk Alone. Credit: PA Wire
Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah and Vicki died in the disaster. Credit: PA Wire

The jury's conclusions dominate the front pages of Wednesday's newspapers - except for The Sun's.

The tabloid - which is still boycotted by many people in Liverpool for its infamous "The Truth" front page in the aftermath of the tragedy - relegated the story to pages eight and nine.

Kelvin MacKenzie, who sanctioned the front page as editor in 1989, told ITV News that South Yorkshire Police's handling of the disaster was a "disgrace" and said he had just "got caught up in it".

Relatives of those killed in the tragedy were overwhelmed with emotion when the jury in the two-year inquests ruled that blunders by South Yorkshire's police and ambulance services "caused or contributed to" their deaths.

Both the South Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service said they fully accepted the jury's conclusion after it was it was delivered on Tuesday and reiterated previous public apologies.

Many held hands and sung Liverpool's anthem You'll Never Walk Alone outside the coroner's court in Warrington where the inquests took place.

Anne Burkett, the mother of Peter who died in the tragedy, said the story of Hillsborough was one of "human tragedy" and a tale of "institutional defensiveness defeating truth and justice".

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to campaigners' "tireless bravery" in their search for justice, saying the historic ruling was "long overdue".

Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, told ITV News that the conclusions had vindicated the families' as he accused South Yorkshire Police of "protecting itself" ahead of those "who suffered hurt and harm at Hillsborough".