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Families of Hillsborough victims in tears after match commander David Duckenfield found not guilty in manslaughter trial

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 28/11/2019 Tim Baker
a group of people sitting on a bench in front of a building © Provided by Evening Standard

Family members of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster were in tears after match commander David Duckenfield was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter of 95 people.

Christine Burke, whose father died in Sheffield at the FA Cup semi final in 1989, shouted at Mr Justice Openshaw after the verdict was handed down at Preston Crown Court.

She said: “With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard.”

Now in tears, she went on: “I would like to know who is responsible for my father’s death because someone is.”

Because one man - Tony Bland - died more than four years after the day of the tragedy, Mr Duckenfield had only faced charges linked to 95 deaths.

Around 45 family members of victims watched proceedings on screens from the Cunard building in Liverpool.

There were shouts in the room as the verdict was announced.

One family member shouted: “Stitched up again.”

Other family members were in tears.

Ian Lewis, Partner at JMW Solicitors LLP, solicitor for David Duckenfield, said: “David is of course relieved that the Jury has found him not guilty, however his thoughts and sympathies remain with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

"He understands the public interest in this case, but would ask that his privacy and that of his family is respected, and will not be commenting further.”

The families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster have shown "dignity" and "passion" as they sought to hold someone accountable for the disaster, investigation bosses have said.

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Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, officer in overall command of the investigation, paid tribute to the families of the men, women and children who lost their lives in the tragedy.

He said: "I can't imagine what they've been through. I have children and the thought of losing my children, and many of the people who passed away were young people, I can't imagine how I would feel.

"They've lived with it over many years and I pay tribute to those who've sought legal accountability.

"The people we've dealt with have shown real dignity, real concern and passion about the right thing being done for their loved ones.

"It's been a responsibility and they have been central to our thinking.

"Clearly they've not steered our investigation, we've had to be independent and dispassionate about the events and about the tragedy.

"We've had to look at the evidence objectively but ultimately you remember, every day you remember, that people have been deeply harmed by what went on at Hillsborough and so it's a big responsibility to ensure it's dealt with properly now."

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