Liverpool criticise Hillsborough trial over allegations fans caused disaster

Liverpool FC have criticised a court after it raised allegations that the club's fans could have contributed to the Hillsborough disaster.

In a statement, the club praised the families, survivors, and campaigners for their “courage, dignity, and resilience”.

Earlier today, match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans who died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

The seven women and three men on the jury at Preston Crown Court returned its verdict on Thursday following a trial which lasted more than six weeks.

Liverpool FC responded: "The journey that reached today's stage, and will continue, is testament to the perseverance and determination of all involved in the ongoing campaign for justice.

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"We also reiterate that the inquests in April 2016 concluded that the behaviour of Liverpool supporters did not cause or contribute to the Hillsborough disaster.

“We were disappointed that the allegations were raised again in this process.

"We have immense admiration for the Hillsborough families, survivors and campaigners for what they have achieved and our thoughts remain with them and those 96 Liverpool supporters who went to watch their team and never came home."

Three years ago, a nine-person jury ruled the actions of supporters in no way led to the deaths of 96 fans on the Leppings Lane terraces.

In reaching an answer, the six women and three men were asked to consider whether fans behaved in a way which was unusually resistant of police control, and whether there were significant numbers of fans without tickets.

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They were tasked with answering asked: Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?

The jury delivered a no verdict to applause and cheers from the gallery.

Bereaved families today branded Duckenfield’s trial a “disgrace” after he was cleared.

There were gasps as the jury returned its verdict the afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference at the Cunard Building in Liverpool, Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said: "The families know who is guilty.

"Our city knows who is guilty. He can walk around now and get on with his life with a not guilty verdict.

"To me that is a disgrace."

After the verdict was announced, Christine Burke, the daughter of Henry Burke who was killed in the tragedy, stood in the public gallery and tearfully said to the judge: "With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard.

"I would like to know who is responsible for my father's death because someone is."

Watching proceedings in the Cunard Building, Mary Corrigan, mother of 17-year-old victim Keith McGrath, shouted: "Stitched up again", while other family members were in tears.

Under the law at the time, Duckenfield was not charged over the death of the 96th victim Tony Bland, because he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.

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