City pays homage to Hillsborough victims

Liverpool will come to a standstill today to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

The bells of the city’s two cathedrals and its civic buildings will ring out in memory of the 96 football fans who died at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium two decades ago.

Its public transport will come to a stop for two minutes at 3.06pm, exactly 20 years since the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was abandoned.

Thousands of people will attend an emotional memorial service at Anfield’s Kop when 96 candles will be lit and a representative of each family will be awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.

Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said: “Hillsborough affected so many lives, not just on Merseyside but across the whole of the UK.

“I attended the match 20 years ago and the passing years do not diminish the importance and the poignancy of this occasion.”

Sheffield will mark the anniversary of Britain’s worst sporting disaster quietly.

After consultation with the Liverpool families’ organisations, there will be no formal ceremony at Wednesday’s ground.

The Leppings Lane end – where the disaster happened – will be opened, though, and there are three different memorials within a few hundred yards of the ground to provide a local focus.

In Nottingham there will be a two-minute silence in the city’s Old Market Square beginning at 3.06pm.

The event in the city is being led by the Lord Mayor and the Sheriff of Nottingham and there will also be public silences in four different suburbs of the city; in Bulwell, Clifton, Hyson Green and Sherwood.

Football fans attending the events are asked to wear their team’s colours, whichever club they support.

An inquiry into the disaster – presided over by Lord Justice Taylor - criticised senior police officers on duty at the match for a “failure of control” and recommended the introduction of all-seater stadia.

Families of the 96 remain determined to fight for further inquiries into the deaths.

They believe a Major Incident Plan was never initiated by South Yorkshire police and Liverpool fans were denied emergency medical attention.

A single inquest was held covering all the victims, recording a verdict of accidental death.

Anne Williams, who lost her son Kevin, 15, is preparing for a fourth legal bid to reopen his inquest.

Mrs Williams, 66, from Chester, disputes official records which state all the fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough were dead or brain dead by 3.15pm.

She said: “It is a big can of worms but it needs to be opened because the verdict of accidental death is wrong.

“Why has no individual or group been held to account for the worst disaster in British sporting history?”

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