Bell tolls in Liverpool to remember 97 Hillsborough victims on 33rd anniversary

People have come together in Liverpool to remember the 97 victims of the Hillsborough disaster on its 33rd anniversary.

The city paused for a minute's silence at 3.06pm, the time the FA Cup semi-final was officially stopped on 15 April 1989.

Flags were also flown at half-mast from civic buildings in the city, while the Town Hall bells tolled 97 times.

It is the first anniversary when tributes will be paid to 97 victims, after Andrew Devine died aged 55 in July 2021, more than 32 years after he was badly hurt in the crush at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Andrew Devine was the 97th Hillsborough victim

A brass plaque engraved with the names of the 97 victims will be on show to the public in the Town Hall, and will light up red as an act of remembrance.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Mary Rasmussen, who led the minute’s silence, said: "This is a sombre time for our city and I am proud and moved to lead the commemorations this year.

"We have always pledged never to forget those who lost their lives as a result of that tragic day 33 years ago – in doing so we honour their memory and stand in solidarity with their families."

Liverpool fans rush to help fellow supporters at Hillsborough stadium in 1989

It comes as demands are growing on the government to introduce a Hillsborough Law to "rebalance the justice system".

Campaigners are calling for a duty of candour to be introduced in law following the inquests into the disaster, which found that those who died were unlawfully killed and errors by the police and ambulance service caused or contributed to their deaths.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, wrote a joint letter to all 650 MPs urging them to give their backing to the idea.

A total of 97 men, women, and children were fatally injured in a deadly crush as Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground.

Nobody has been held accountable for their unlawful deaths.

The proposed changes to the law include forcing public authorities like the police to be proactively honest if anything went wrong while also providing ordinary people with a legal body, funded by the taxpayer, to fight for their cause in court.

Andy Burnham with Hillsborough Support chair Margaret Aspinall and Steve Rotheram. Credit: PA Images

The mayors said the relatives of servicemen exposed to British nuclear tests, those affected by the contaminated blood scandal, the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack were all examples where “the scales of justice are weighed against ordinary families and in favour of public authorities who hold all the power”.

The law, backed by former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Theresa May, would also ensure proper participation of bereaved families at inquests, through publicly-funded legal representation, and the provision of a public advocate to act for families of the deceased after major incidents.

In 2016, an inquest jury found the Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed.

But match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter in 2019 and a trial of two retired police officers and a former force solicitor, who were accused of perverting the course of justice, collapsed last year after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.