Ambulance ban 'cost lives' at Hillsborough

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The Independent Online

Anger at the handling of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster has flared again after evidence that some victims could have lived if ambulances had been allowed in.

Anger at the handling of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster has flared again after evidence that some victims could have lived if ambulances had been allowed in.

Many of the 96 fans killed in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's football ground on 15 April 1989 did not die "within minutes" as was originally thought, but would have been alive well after the rescue operation began, show medical reports just discovered.

The evidence, in 13 boxes of documents from the Hillsborough enquiry now lodged in Manchester Library, also indicates their suffering may have been prolonged, opening the way for increased compensation claims. Many relatives got payments of up to £6,000 because victims would not have suffered "pre-death trauma".

But a statement from Dr James Burns, the former head of forensic psychology at Liverpool University, says "it is nonsense to assume that everyone was dead by 3.15pm". He adds: "If trained personnel and equipment had been available at the scene it is possible more could have survived."

The documents also say Nottingham Forest fans had been drinking heavily before the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool FC. Police had blamed drunken Liverpool fans for contributing to overcrowding. But a statement taken from Steven Walton, a constable, says that more than 160 Forest supporters were "drinking heavily" and "giving abuse to passing motorists".

Terry Burkett, from the Wirral in Birkenhead, who lost his son Peter, helped to set up the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC). The group has launched a petition in the European Parliament against the judge at the trial of two police officers charged with manslaughter and neglect.

The HJC says Mr Justice Hooper misled the jury during his summing up and unjustly threatened to imprison HJC members. One officer was acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict on the other. The judge refused a retrial.

Mr Burkett, who watched Hillsborough happen on television and has refused compensation, said: "There were 42 ambulances outside the ground which were not allowed in. And who decided my son was dead?Nothing would give me more pleasure than to go to my son's grave and say, 'I know what happened', but I can't."

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