Sheffield Wednesday apologise to families of 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster

 

Sheffield Wednesday today offered an apology to the families who lost their loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster and welcomed the release of thousands of official documents relating to the tragedy.

The club said they hope the release of the documents for the first time would help "bring closure" to the families of the 96 people who died in the disaster on April 15, 1989.

Sheffield Wednesday's ground was the venue for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest which saw fans of the Merseyside club crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end.

A statement from Sheffield Wednesday said: "Chairman Milan Mandaric and the current board of directors have adopted a policy of complete compliance with the requests of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and on behalf of the club would like to offer our sincere condolences and an apology to all the families who have suffered as a consequence of the tragic events of 15 April, 1989."

Mandaric took over the club in December 2010 and the statement added they had been "totally transparent" in helping the report be compiled.

It added: "Sheffield Wednesday FC welcomes the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of hard work by all involved during what was, and continues to be, an extremely emotive process.

"Throughout the compilation stage, the club has worked closely with the panel and the other donating organisations to ensure that, in line with the ethos of maximum disclosure, we have been totally transparent.

"Sheffield Wednesday would also like to record its gratitude for the thoroughly dignified manner with which the Hillsborough Family Support Group and its representatives conducted themselves throughout all levels of consultation with the club.

"We can only hope that the publication of the report goes some way to providing the closure sought by all those involved."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel has been overseeing the release of previously unpublished papers from around 80 organisations including the government, police, emergency services, Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire coroner.

The families of the 96 fans who died in Britain's deadliest sporting disaster were the first to see more than 400,000 pages from 8am.

The report explaining the contents of the documents will be published by the panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones.

A report into the disaster by Lord Justice Taylor, published in 1990, found that the main reason for the disaster was a failure of "police control" but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

The victims' families say it is an injustice that no individual or organisation has been held fully accountable for the disaster. They believe a major incident plan was never initiated by South Yorkshire Police and fans in the Leppings Lane end were denied emergency medical attention.

The families also dispute the findings of an inquest into the deaths, which ruled that the victims were all dead, or brain dead, by 3.15pm and which subsequently recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said they hope the documents will answer some of the questions they have about the causes and aftermath of the tragedy.

"This is what the families and the fans have been fighting for for 23 years. Without the truth you cannot grieve and where there is deceit, you get no justice," she said.

PA

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