'The truth is out today, and the justice starts tomorrow' - Families of Hillsborough victims speak after independent report

Following the Panel's findings that the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the 1989 tragedy were the victims of gross misconduct, their loved ones react to the verdict
Following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the 1989 tragedy, which revealed the shocking extent of police misconduct, the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) president Trevor Hicks has stated that: "The truth is out today, and the justice starts tomorrow."

Hicks, who lost two daughters in the tragedy, has also called upon those who were involved in the alleged cover-up to "resign and stand up and apologise".

Ninety-six people in total were crushed to death as a result of the disaster, and following a 23-year wait, the families were finally greeted with a 394-page report that detailed how police disseminated false information, with 164 statements made by police doctored, with 116 negative comments removed entirely from the statements.

Hicks also stated that the findings would help the families of the bereaved to fully come to terms with their loss, adding: "We sit before you as officers of our group if you like but when we go home, in our case, we're grieving parents, we are the families of the bereaved and one of the good things to come out of today is we can get on with our grieving even better.

"Liverpool football club and the families will feel equally relieved at the very least. I don't think there'll be any great rejoicing – the time's gone on too long but they'll feel vindicated. You'd have to spend 23 years apologising to make up for the damage.

"I can't use the term 'rejoicing' because we're still losers at the end of the day but at least the truth is out now and nobody can say anything against that because the evidence is out to show that that is not the case."

The HFSG president also revealed his shock at the lengths the Police went to in order to cover-up the true events of April 15 1898, adding:

"We are surprised at the extent and speed of the cover up from police, not totally because that’s what we've been saying all this time.

"There were two disasters at Hillsborough – one on the day and one afterwards. If this report shows anything, it shows the aftermath wasn't only a disaster but also a contrived manipulated and spiteful attempt to divert the blame."

Margaret Aspinall, chairman of HFSG, said that: "The panel have let the 96 rest in peace for the first time."

Aspinall suggested the continuing battle to bring those who have been found guilty of misconduct to justice would be discussed in the coming days, with the families instead taking Wednesday to digest the Panel's verdict.

She added: "We are just concentrating on the good thing we've had today, to go back to the vigil at 6pm and hopefully be with all the people in Merseyside and afterwards think about that other side, speak to our lawyers and the pathologists to deal with that side. We'll keep today for this."

When asked if we had seen the biggest cover-up in British history, Michael Mansfield QC, the Hillsborough Families' lawyer, replied: "The short answer to that is: yes."

Mansfield also reiterated the desire of the victims families to continue to fight their cause in light of the new findings: "There’s an obvious one they need to look at if the Attorney General authorises that, but even if he doesn't, we'll go to court over it.

"That's unlawful killing in the sense of gross negligence because an aspect that hasn't been discussed this afternoon was discussed in the House of Commons and is in the report and it's not new, it's not just Hillsborough where this has happened.

"There was no safety certificate then, they breached the safety rules. That is the beginning of serious negligence and there is a causation relationship here which the Direct of Public Prosecutions will have to look at.

"There's more than the police here, it's not just the police. Sheffield Wednesday need to answer some questions and the Sheffield authorities too on that score, so that's the big one."

Both Hicks and Mansfield praised Prime Minister David Cameron for the apology he gave on behalf of the government in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Hick said: "We hoped to get an apology but what we got was an unconditional, unequivocal, unreserved apology which, I have to say, I was staggered at. I never expected it."

Mansfield concluded: "I agree that Cameron did well today. With it being the truth, nothing short of an unequivocal apology was possible. He did the right thing in recognising that but what a quick read of the report shows is a concerted conspiracy by the authorities."

Elsewhere David Compton, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, the force heavily criticised for their role in the Hillsborough tragedy, has apologised to the victims' families, admitting "lies were told about what happened."

Compton added: "In the immediate aftermath when police lost control, lies were told about how that happened and then later in the day, you had to ID your loved ones in a makeshift mortuary, that adds up to the worst possible set of circumstances anyone could imagine.

"Even now 23 years after, I wish to profoundly apologise not only to the families of the 96 but also Liverpool fans in general."