Two criminal investigations into the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath could finish by the end of the year.
A police probe is looking at the lead-up to the tragedy and the day of the match itself, and a separate inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission — the biggest in its history — is investigating the alleged cover-up afterwards.
Hundreds of investigators have worked on both inquiries, facing the challenge of hunting for decades-old evidence, some of which was contained on 1980s floppy discs or in water-stained notebooks stashed in garden sheds.
A raft of individuals and organisations could be charged with criminal offences that may include gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in a public office, perverting the course of justice, perjury, or health and safety breaches.
Police have not named any suspects, but eight former officers were represented by lawyers at the inquests and what they said in the witness box forms part of the criminal inquiry.
Police were responsible for the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium crush, a jury concluded yesterday, after two years of hearings into Britain’s worst sporting disaster.
The inquest verdicts of “unlawful killing” were greeted with a mix of cheers and tears by relatives of the victims, who sang the Liverpool fans’ anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ outside the court in Warrington.
The families have campaigned for almost three decades to get “justice for the 96”, refusing to accept that the deaths were accidental.
They said the police, who at first blamed the tragedy on the supporters themselves, had told lies and staged a cover-up of “industrial proportions” to hide their mistakes in managing the crowd surging into the stadium.
“The conspiracy and lies which began on April 15, 1989, and continued over the years, involving police, politicians, and officials of high standing has been the most evil act of man’s inhumanity to man,” said Karen Hankin, whose husband Eric was among those killed 27 years ago.
The fans died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on a sunny spring afternoon.
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