The Hillsborough inquests commenced on March 31, 2014 and are the subject of reporting restrictions that have been imposed by the Attorney General's office. Liverpool Football Club is respectful of these restrictions and will therefore only be making available updates from other media channels for the duration of the inquest.
Courtesy of Press Association
None of the 96 Liverpool victims of theHillsboroughdisaster should be blamed for their tragic deaths, a coroner has said, which bereaved relatives welcomed as "music to our ears".
Lord Justice Goldring laid out key questions facing jurors in the fresh inquests into how the fans died, including how other supporters behaved.
He said: "What was the conduct of the fans or some of them, excluding those who died, and did that play any part in the disaster? I phrase it in that way because I don't believe anyone will suggest that the conduct of those who died in any way contributed to their deaths. "
Speaking outside court, Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of theHillsboroughFamilies Support Group, said: "It's absolutely great. We've always known that for 25 years.
"We've had a lot of mud thrown at us for 25 years. It's nice to hear the coroner say that. To hear that officially from Lord Justice Goldring was really music to our ears."
Britain's worst sporting disaster unfolded when hundreds of fans were crushed at the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool on April 15 1989.
On the third day of the new inquests into the deaths of the 96 supporters who were killed, the jury heard that police accounts of what happened that day were changed, with critical comments about police leadership and fans removed.
Officers from South Yorkshire had been asked to write their own accounts of what happened, and then senior ranks and lawyers for the force altered some of the statements before they were passed to West Midlands Police, which was investigating the tragedy.
The coroner said: "Over the years between 1989 and today it has become known that a large number of statements were amended in the review. The amendments vary in type and significance.
"Some simply involve corrections of language and factual error. Others involve removing expletives.
"A number involved the removal of comments criticising the police leadership on the day of the disaster.
"Others were of deletions of passages denouncing poor and defective radio communications.
"A small number were amended to remove comments which were critical or even abusive of the fans at the match."
Lord Justice Goldring said the jury of seven women and four men would have to consider whether the amendments affect their view of the "reliability" of early written statements given by the officers.
He said: "You will have to give some consideration to the amendments which were made to some of the statements.
"Among the questions which you may consider are these. Do the amendments affect your view of the reliability of these early written accounts given by the officers, an account on which he may be heavily reliant after 25 years? Why was the amendment made? Was it made for innocent and perfectly understandable reasons? Or was it part of a policy of blaming fans in order to deflect criticism from police?
"Do the amendments throw any light on the crucial question, how those who came to die did so?"
He outlined the series of inquiries that have already taken place into the disaster, including the previous inquests where the coroner took the "highly controversial" decision that those who died were beyond help after 3.15pm.
More recently, theHillsboroughIndependent Panel was set up and issued a final report in 2012.
Lord Justice Goldring said: "Any views they expressed are irrelevant as far as you are concerned, what the panel said can't be evidence for you to consider. You will hear more information than did the panel. The panel heard no evidence, you, of course, will."
On November 19, 2012 the original inquest verdicts were quashed. The jury, sitting in a court in a specially-fitted office block in Warrington, Cheshire, was told that two investigations are being carried out into the aftermath of the disaster, one led by police, called Operation Resolve, and one headed by watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The coroner said: "The fact that the IPCC is involved should not be taken as an indication that any police officer necessarily did anything wrong.
"The IPCC is the body which carries out investigations into the police. It is for you to reach your determinations in respect of the actions of the police and others on the evidence you hear."
Tragic timeline of the 96 deaths
Here is a timeline of the events on the day of theHillsborough disaster, April 15 1989, as put to jurors at the fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 football fans in the tragedy:
10.30am to 2pm - Assistant Chief Constable Walter Jackson of South Yorkshire Police had written to the secretaries of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest Football Clubs to say that supporters should time their arrival in Sheffield between these times in order to ensure they would be in the ground by kick-off.
2pm - It was observed that the Liverpool supporters in the ground were outnumbered by Nottingham Forest supporters.
The Leppings Lane turnstiles were operating reasonably smoothly at this point. According to the monitoring system, around 12,000 supporters had come through the turnstiles on that side. That was around half the Liverpool supporters expected.
2.15pm to 2.30pm - The numbers of fans approaching the Leppings Lane entrance increased.
2.17pm - Superintendent Roger Marshall asked for the road near Leppings Lane to be closed to traffic.
2.30pm - The road was closed.
A message was given over the public address system at the instruction of the police commanders. It asked those in the terrace to move forward and spread along.
Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield could see from the monitor in the police control room that the numbers approaching Leppings Lane entrance were growing. He asked his deputy, Superintendent Bernard Murray, about the possibility of delaying the kick-off. A decision was made that the kick-off would not be delayed.
2.40pm - Mr Marshall, increasingly concerned about the press of supporters outside the turnstiles, climbed onto the parapet of a nearby bridge over the River Don in order to get a better view of the scene. A large crowd had built up in the area immediately outside the turnstiles.
2.44pm - Mr Marshall called up reinforcements. He asked for a Land Rover with a portable public address system to broadcast a request to stop pushing. The crowd remained tightly packed.
2.40pm to 2.50pm - The crowd outside the turnstiles had grown to thousands. The pressure was becoming very heavy. The turnstiles were becoming difficult to operate and people were getting stuck in them.
2.47pm - Mr Marshall radioed the police control room. He asked for permission to open the exit gates A, B and C to permit people to come in to ease the pressure and prevent injury.
2.48pm - Officers inside the turnstile area themselves briefly opened gate C to eject someone. Around 150 supporters were able to enter before the gate was closed.
Mr Marshall made a second request for the gates to be opened. He repeated his request a third time, saying that somebody would be "killed if the gates weren't opened".
Mr Duckenfield considered the situation. He says that he contemplated putting off the kick-off, but thought it was now too late. Speaking his thoughts aloud, he said: "If there's likely to be a serious injury or death, I've no option but to open the gates - open the gates."
2.45pm to 2.55 pm - Gate A was opened, so too was gate B, but more briefly
2.52pm to 2.57pm - Gate C was opened for five minutes. In the five minutes during which gate C was open, around 2,000 fans came in. Most had tickets for the Leppings Lane terrace. A significant proportion of them headed for the tunnel and pens three and four.
The tunnel became more crowded. Pressure built up. People have spoken of pressure, like a train moving them onwards.
2.54pm - The players came onto the pitch. The fans in pens three and four visibly surged forward. Over the following minutes, the crowd moved as a mass.
An officer in front of pen four saw the fans pressing against the fencing. The officer opened the narrow gate at the front of pen four.
The narrow gate at the front of pen three came open under the pressure within the pen.
Officers in the police control room did not at first realise why the two gates in the perimeter fence had been opened. They, as did some others, appear to have thought they were seeing a deliberate pitch invasion by Liverpool fans.
3pm - The match kicks off. The crush in the pens, particularly in the front, was intolerable.
3.04pm - Liverpool player, Peter Beardsley, struck the crossbar of the Nottingham goal, which was at the far end of the pitch. The crowd in pens three and four surged forward as fans tried to see what was happening at the far end. That surge contributed to the crushing of fans towards the front.
A metal crush barrier at the front of pen three broke under the pressure of the crowd behind it. It made the situation much worse for those in front. Some of those who had been up against the barrier fell or were pressed forward. Those in front were subjected to even greater pressures from behind.
3pm to 3.20pm - Police and ambulance staff at the ground began to appreciate the disaster which was unfolding.
3.05pm - Ambulance Station Officer Patrick Higgins sent his colleagues, Station Officer Paul Eason and Ambulanceman Stephen Chippendale, to investigate.
3.05pm to 3.06pm - Superintendent Roger Greenwood took matters into his own hands. He ran onto the pitch and spoke to the referee. The match was stopped.
3.06pm to 3.08pm - Ambulance control was contacted by police control. At first, it was reported there was "pushing and shoving" with possible injuries, and that "a few ambulances" might be needed, but almost immediately this was changed to a request by the police for "a fleet of ambulances". The senior officer at ambulance control said that he couldn't send a fleet, his officers on the scene would assess the situation.
3.07pm to 3.10pm - Mr Murray returned to the police box. He was immediately sent back to assess the situation. Mr Duckenfield said he couldn't see what was going on. A request to clear the pitch was broadcast.
Mr Duckenfield also issued a request to enact "operation support". That is a police procedure which would bring all available South Yorkshire Police resources to the stadium.
3.08pm - Ambulance officers, under Mr Higgins, returned to the Leppings Lane end to treat a fracture victim. There were more spectators on the pitch. Some were distressed, some were angry.
3.10pm - Police on the pitch wanted some bolt cutters to cut the mesh fencing of the pens. They wanted to get people out more quickly. A nearby police garage, which was contacted, couldn't help.
3.11pm - Ambulance control spoke to Mr Higgins. He said there were around 50 to 100 people on the pitch, including many who had been squashed forward and winded.
3.12pm - Chief Superintendent John Nesbit, the senior police officer from the Traffic Division who was at the stadium, arrived at the Leppings Lane end of the pitch. He went to the gate at the front of pen three and assumed responsibility.
3.13pm - An ambulance from St John Ambulance, the volunteer force, was driven around the perimeter of the pitch at the north-east corner.
Mr Higgins of the ambulance service was approached by a police officer who asked for help with casualties and who mentioned possible fatalities.
Officers in the police control box radioed police headquarters with a request for the fire brigade to be called to bring cutting equipment to the Leppings Lane entrance.
3.14pm - More ambulances arrived at Leppings Lane end.
3.15pm - The secretary of Sheffield Wednesday and the chief executive of the Football Association, Graham Kelly, went to the police control box to ask for information. Mr Duckenfield said there were fatalities and the game was likely to be called off. He also said that gate C had been forced, that there had been an in-rush of Liverpool supporters. This later transpired to not be correct.
The emergency services had designated the club gymnasium as a casualty clearing area and a temporary mortuary.
3.17pm - More ambulances arrived at the Penistone Road end.
3.21pm - Mr Eason contacted ambulance control. He said he wanted to declare a major incident. That was the first time anyone had formally made such a declaration. Still, the major incident procedures of the emergency services, including the police, were not fully enacted.
3.22pm - Fire engines did arrive at Leppings Lane and Penistone Road ends of the stadium. They had cutting equipment, but were told they were not needed. They did, however, remain and they assisted shortly thereafter by bringing oxygen and resuscitation equipment and assisted with efforts to revive the injured.
3.23pm - Deputy Chief Ambulance Officer Alan Hopkins arrived at the Penistone Road entrance to the stadium. He assumed responsibility for the ambulance response.
3.29pm - Mr Hopkins requested the ambulance service's major incident vehicle. That was because it had more advanced medical equipment than ordinary ambulances. He also sent an ambulance out onto the pitch.
3.30pm - At the instruction of the police, a call was issued over the public address system asking for medically trained people to come down from the stands and provide assistance. Many did so.
3.40pm to 4.30pm - Mr Hopkins gave instructions for the removal of the injured to hospitals using the ambulances which were continually arriving.
3.50pm - A medical team arrived from the nearby Northern General Hospital, bringing medical equipment. At roughly the same time, the major incident vehicle, arrived with additional equipment and supplies, including more stretchers.
3.56pm - Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, broadcast a message to all fans. He asked them to remain calm and in their seats. The police had asked him to do so.
4.10pm - A further broadcast was made formally abandoning the match. Following that broadcast, the crowd dispersed and those who did not have worries about friends and family members in the Leppings Lane pens generally returned home.
4.30pm - By this time, some 88 people had been taken by ambulance to the Northern General Hospital and some 71 to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield by 42 ambulances.
5pm - The South Yorkshire coroner at the time, Dr Stefan Popper, gave instructions for the bodies to be kept in the gymnasium until they had been photographed and identified.
6.45pm - The coroner visited the gymnasium with the head pathologist from the Medico-Legal Centre, Professor Alan Usher.
9.15pm - The coroner and police agreed a process for identifying the deceased. The face of the person who had died would be photographed. The photograph could be immediately produced by using a Polaroid camera, a camera that immediately produced a picture. The photographs were to be displayed on a board at the entrance to the gymnasium. Friends and family members of people who were missing could view the photographs. If they believed they recognised a person, the plan was that the body would be brought to a viewing area near the entrance to the gymnasium.
9.30pm - The identification process was ready to begin.
82 people were declared dead in the stadium. 12 were declared dead at hospital, either immediately on arrival or after some attempts to treat them.
Another person, Lee Nicol, survived for two days on a life support machine before he, too, died.
The 96th victim of the Hillsborough disaster was Tony Bland. He survived until 1993, but with severe brain damage.