Hillsborough tragedy inquest to announce verdict today

Families of the victims will find out if they were unlawfully killed

Families of the 96 football fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster will finally learn later whether a jury has accepted that their loved ones were unlawfully killed.

After the longest jury hearing in British legal history, inquest verdicts have finally been reached.

Jurors who have listened to two years of evidence told the coroner, Sir John Goldring, that they have reached decisions on all fourteen questions put to them before they began their deliberations.

They were sent out to consider their conclusions on the 6th of April, and indicated last week that they had agreed on all questions, apart from one on whether the fans were unlawfully killed. 

But after being told by the coroner that he would accept a majority of the nine members of the jury, it was revealed that seven had reached agreement. 

The hearing was adjourned until 11am, when they will formally announce the verdicts.

To agree on unlawful killing, they had to decide whether the Hillsborough match commander, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, caused the deaths by gross negligence manslaughter.

As part of their deliberations, jurors had to consider other questions covering police preparation for the ill-fated FA cup semi-final, policing on the day, the response of the emergency services, management of the stadium by Sheffield Wednesday FC, and the behaviour of fans.

The new inquests have cost more than £14m (€18).

From the moment an original inquest in 1991 ruled that the 96 football fans died accidentally, families vowed to overturn the verdict.

Sue Roberts, whose brother Graham died in the disaster, believes that whatever the outcome, many other lives have been ruined in the long wait for justice.

She told Sky News: "I was 23 at the time. I am 50 now. It's as though all my adult life I've lived fighting this battle. Graham was a decent human being. We shouldn't still be here doing this. So many family members have passed away, died tormented like both my parents. This truth should've just been allowed to come out back then in 1989 and then maybe we could have grieved and made the most of our lives."

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC has represented most of the Hillsborough families at the inquests.

He believes that such a long wait for justice must never be repeated.

"For the future there is a need for some form of permanent body that scrutinises how agents of the state deal with catastrophes, disasters, whatever you want to call them like this, so that we don't have to wait 27 years in order to get a process that really does look at everything."