Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham, who joined campaigns for justice following the events of the Hillsborough disaster, has hailed Tuesday’s verdict.
The 46-year-old—present at many Hillsborough memorial campaigns and delivering an impassioned speech on the 20th anniversary in 2009—released a statement shortly after the verdict.
A jury at the coroner’s court in Warrington concluded that the 96 supporters who lost their lives at the FA Cup game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989 were unlawfully killed.
This marks a immeasurably significant milestone in the campaign for justice in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, and writing on Tuesday afternoon, Burnham labelled the verdict “real justice for the 96.”
“This has been the greatest miscarriage of justice of our times. But, finally, it is over,” Burnham wrote.
“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.”
Calling for prosecutions following Tuesday’s verdict, Burnham lamented the 27-year wait for justice, for the families of the 96, and others who were affected by the tragedy.
“The sense of relief we feel is tempered by the knowledge that this day has taken far too long in coming,” he continued.
“The struggle for justice has taken too great a toll on too many.
“But the Hillsborough families have at long last prevailed and finally their loved-ones can rest in peace.”
Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, joined Burnham to pay his respects, having been in attendance at Hillsborough 27 years ago.
“I have waited 27 years for this moment. But I know it comes too late for many. I was there on the day and saw the horror unfold before my very eyes.
“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.”