FAMILIES clapped, cried and cheered as the jury in the Hillsborough inquests found 96 people were unlawfully killed on the day of the football disaster.
The jury delivered their verdicts on the 14 questions concerning the tragedy of April 15 1989, which saw dozens of Liverpool fans killed in the UK’s worst sporting disaster.
To give the unlawful killing verdict the jury had to be convinced that overall match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died in the disaster, and that he was in breach of that duty of care.
They also needed to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and, fourthly, that it amounted to "gross negligence".
They concluded it was unlawful killing by a 7-2 majority.
The Hillsborough disaster unfolded during Liverpool's cup tie against Nottingham Forest on April 15 as thousands of fans were crushed at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.
Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, allowing around 2,000 fans to flood into the already packed central pens behind the goal.
The jury found there was an 'error or ommission in police planning' which contributed to the dangerous situation on the day.
Also, answering question three, they found there were failures by police at Leppings Lane turnstiles, making the situation worse.
Jurors found some responsibility lies with authorities and the club as there were features of the design, construction and layout of the stadium which were found to be ‘dangerous or defective and contributed to the disaster’.
They also found behaviour of the fans did not contribute to the disaster.
The group of six women and three men have been sitting since the inquests, which replaced the original 1991 inquests that were quashed following the publication of the independent report into the disaster in 2012.
The jury was told to answer the general questionnaire as well as record the time and cause of death for each of the Liverpool fans who died in the disaster on April 15 1989.
They answered yes to 13 of 14 questions, the only no being for question 6 about the responsibility of the fans.
Last Wednesday the jury indicated to the court in Warrington that unanimous decisions had already been made on every question apart from question six.
Question six asks: "Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?"
Families have told heartbreaking stories of how the disaster tore their loves apart.
Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah and Vicki did not survive lethal crush, spoke at the inquest, telling the court that lack of ambulance space meant he had to choose which injured daughter to stay with.
Following the jury's verdict Andy Burnham MP said: “This has been the greatest miscarriage of justice of our times.
"But, finally, it is over. After 27 long years, this is real justice for the 96, their families and all Liverpool supporters. The survivors of this tragedy can finally be remembered for what they were on that day — the heroes of Hillsborough who tried to help their fellow fans.
“The Hillsborough Independent Panel gave us the truth.
“This Inquest has delivered justice. Next must come accountability.
“For 27 years, this police force has consistently put protecting itself above protecting those hurt by the horror of Hillsborough. People must be held to account for their actions and prosecutions must now follow.”
The hearings have been ongoing for more than two years, with the jury having heard evidence from more than 800 witnesses.
The inquest has sat since March 31, 2014 at a specially built courtroom in Warrington, Cheshire.
The 1991 accidental deaths verdicts from the original inquests were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report after a long campaign by the families of the dead.
Dozens of relatives of the victims have attended each of the more than 300 days the court has sat at Bridgewater Place on the Cheshire town's Birchwood Park business park.
At the start of the inquests, the coroner said none of the victims should be blamed for their deaths.
Emotional tributes to each of the 96 were then delivered by family members in the form of personal portraits.
Outside the court family members began singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and chanting 'Justice for the 96'.
The families who were today finally delivered justice for their loved ones issued a statement shortly after stating “now is the time for consequences”.
Slamming South Yorkshire Police the family group also called special measures to be placed on the force after today’s revelations.
And they called for the dismissal of current chief constable David Crompton.
In February 2013 he was forced to apologise for accusing Hillsborough campaigners of lying in an email.
In his email he wrote: “One thing is certain – the Hillsborough Campaign for Justice will be doing their version… in fact their version of certain events has become ‘the truth even though it isn’t’.”
Mr Crompton announced just a month ago in March he will be retiring in November.
An 11-page statement — on behalf of 22 of the families said: “This jury has now spoken. Now is the time for consequences. The criminal investigations must be allowed to take their course and we hope and urge that prosecution decisions can be taken soon.
“We have called for the resignation or removal the sacking of the current chief constable of SYP and we have called for remedial measures to be imposed on SYP to ensure systems are put in place to require them to stay subject to the law and to prevent them from putting themselves before the truth.
“The story of Hillsborough is a story of human tragedy but it is also a story of deceit and lies, of institutional defensiveness defeating truth and justice. It is evidence of a culture of denial within SYP. All that must be brought to an end. Only then can we truly lay our loved ones to rest."
Families of the victims called for the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and the head of the county's ambulance service to resign immediately.
Stephen Wright, whose both Graham died in the tragedy, said the primary responsibility of the disaster lies at the door of the "incompetence" of the match commander David Duckenfield who had "overall command".
"Others failed as well, but in the final analysis our loved ones would have lived but for the gross failings of the police," said Mr Wright.
He said it was "no surprise" to the families that South Yorkshire Police have been found "comprehensively responsible" for the disaster and the deaths.
"The evidence over the past two years has been overwhelming, yet South Yorkshire Police and their senior officers have tried to look truth in the eye and deny responsibility and shift blame onto others.
"In particular, innocent football fans. For 27 years, we the victims of this tragedy have had to live with the outrage of such institutional denial.
He said, after publication of the Hillsborough Independent panel report in 2012, the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police "appeared to face up to responsibility".
Mr Wright added: "However, such a comprehensive admission of responsibility, not only for the disaster and loss of life, but also for the dishonest and outrageous cover-up was not honoured in these current inquests."
He said the legal teams of the force pursued "denials of the past" and blamed "mythical, late and drunken" fans for the deaths.
Mr Wright added: "For this reason, we the 22 families call for the immediate resignation of David Crompton, the chief constable."
He said Mr Crompton has let down the police force, the general public and police and fire officers there on the day in 1989 who were "traumatised" by the events.
Neil Bowles, chairman of South Yorkshire Police Federation that represents constables, sergeants and inspectors in the region, said officers did "their best job in incredibly difficult circustances".
He said: "Our members — ordinary officers — went to work that day in 1989 expecting a normal day, policing a football match, but walked into an unfolding disaster.
"They did their best and did their jobs in incredibly difficult circumstances on that day: they followed orders and did what they were commanded to do by senior officers.
"When there were gaps in that command, they used their initiative to try to save lives.
"Today's policing standards — such as strict procedures, improved equipment and health and safety standards — were simply not in place 27 years ago, nor indeed the current ability and frameworks for junior officers to question senior officers' decisions.
"The officers we represent co-operated fully with the investigations and we have always been clear that what we wanted, above all, was to get to the truth of what happened on that day for all those concerned. We recognise the prolonged agony endured by the families.
"We also recognise that this was exacerbated by various accounts from some areas, comments which were deeply upsetting to the families.
"Nothing can turn the clock back and we know that more answers will be needed as the outcome of the inquests sink in.
When asked if he will apologise for what the federation said about fans after the disaster, Mr Bowles said it was "not my place".
He went on: "What I can say is that we will support the investigation and support officers and our ex-members at the same time.
Pressed, he said: "I'm not going to apologise as those matters are under further investigation and I don't want to prejudice any investigation.
Mr Bowles was asked if federation members were complicit in a "cover-up of the true facts of Hillsborough."
He said: "That is not my place to say.
"I've been chair since 2011. What happened with my predecessors before that I've got no comment to make whatsoever.
"We've been open and honest with all the inquiries, we've provided the inquiries with our minutes and the inquiries are ongoing."
Mr Bowles also said he did not want to comment on whether officers felt they were let down by commanders.
Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton who was there on the day said: “Before we’d even buried our dead, the hurt of loss was compounded by the lies and smears.
“I remember picking up a newspaper and feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. They inflicted terrible pain on a city at its moment of maximum grief.
“I’ve seen how friends have suffered. This is a momentous day but they should never have had to wait so long.
“The truth is out there for all to see. Justice has been served by the verdicts and now it is about accountability.”
The Crown Prosecution Service has said it will consider whether criminal charges should be brought.
Sue Hemming, Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division at the CPS said: "Following the inquest's determinations the CPS team will continue to work closely with Operation Resolve and the IPCC as in due course, the CPS will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
"We would ask that everyone is mindful of the continuing investigations and the potential for future criminal proceedings when reporting or publicly commenting on the inquest's conclusions."
"However we hope that today's outcome gives all those involved the final truth about what happened on that day. We must ensure lessons of the past are learned and that nothing like this ever happens again.
"As a staff association representing rank-and-file officers we will continue to support our members in making sure that this is recognised and hope that they, too, can now try to move on from this horrific tragedy."
There is a possibility of criminal prosecutions against retired officers.
Deputy chair of the Independent Police Complains Commission, Rachel Cerfontyne said: “Our attention now focuses on concluding our criminal investigation into the aftermath of the disaster. This is by far the biggest and most complex investigation ever undertaken by the IPCC.
“We have made significant progress on the investigation and we will continue to work closely with Operation Resolve and the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue our remaining lines of enquiry as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.
“I anticipate we will conclude the criminal investigations by the turn of the year.”
The names of the 96 victims' unlawfully killed will be read at a commemorative event on Wednesday.
The service, at St George's Hall plateau in Liverpool, will feature a mixture of tributes, music and speeches looking back on the disaster, 27 years earlier.
Names and ages of those killed will be read out and displayed on large screens, while the Sense of Sound choir will perform the Liverpool football team's anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone.