Hillsborough Disaster

The 1989 Hillsborough disaster was a human crush which occurred during the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. The crush resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 766 others. The incident remains the worst stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the world's worst football disasters.

Football clubs contest the semi-final of the FA Cup at a neutral venue, and in 1989 Hillsborough was selected by the Football Association. While opposing supporters were segregated in the stadium, Liverpool fans were allocated the Leppings Lane stand, accessed by a limited number of turnstiles. Entry to the ground was slow due to the small amount of decrepit turnstiles available to the Liverpool fans which caused dangerous overcrowding outside the ground before kick-off. In an attempt to ease pressure outside the ground, Chief Superintendent Duckenfield ordered an exit gate to be opened. The opened exit gate lead to a tunnel marked "Standing" which lead directly to the two already overcrowded enclosures (pens). In previous years the tunnel had been closed off by police when the two central pens were full, however on this occasion the tunnel was unmanned.

The ensuing influx of supporters caused crushing and some fans climbed over side fences or were lifted by fellow supporters onto the stand above to escape the crush. Moments after kick-off, a crush barrier broke and fans began to fall on top of each other. The game was stopped after six minutes. To carry away the injured, supporters tore down advertising hoardings to use as stretchers and emergency services were called to provide assistance. Of the 96 fatalities, 14 were admitted to hospital. When the FA Chairman visited the Control Box to find out what had happened, Chief Superintendent Duckenfield lied saying that the supporters had "rushed" the gate.

The 1990 official inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report, concluded "the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control." The findings of the report resulted in the elimination of standing terraces at all major football stadiums in England, Wales and Scotland.

On the 20th anniversary of the disaster, government minister Andy Burnham called for the police, ambulance, and all other public bodies to release documents which had not been made available to Lord Justice Taylor in 1989. This action led to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which, in September 2012, concluded that no Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths, and that attempts had been made by the authorities to conceal what had happened, including the alteration of 164 statements relating to the disaster by the police. The report prompted immediate apologies from Prime Minister David Cameron; the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton; Football Association Chairman David Bernstein and Kelvin MacKenzie, then-editor of The Sun, for their organisations' respective roles.

In September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded that up to 41 of the 96 fatalities might have been saved had they received prompt medical treatment. The report revealed "multiple failures" by other emergency services and public bodies which contributed to the death toll. In response to the panel's report, Attorney General for England and Wales, Dominic Grieve MP, confirmed he would consider all the new evidence to evaluate whether the original inquest verdicts of accidental death could be overturned.

Read more about Hillsborough Disaster:  The Taylor Inquiry, Stuart-Smith Scrutiny, Hillsborough Independent Panel, Hillsborough Television Drama, Further Reading

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