Hillsborough report: 41 of the 96 dead 'had potential to survive'
A panel investigating the Hillsborough disaster has concluded that 41 of the 96 people who died in the tragedy might have survived had the response of the emergency services been adequate.
Hillsborough report key findings:
• Police carried out criminal record checks on deceased to 'impugn reputations'
• Senior officers privately discussed 'animalistic behaviour' of 'drunken marauding fans'
• New evidence suggests dozens survived past 3.15pm inquest cut-off point
• 116 of the 164 South Yorkshire Police statements were doctored
• South Yorkshire Ambulance Service evidence was misleading
• No evidence to support police account that fans were drunk and aggressive
• Margaret Thatcher expressed concern in Cabinet that the first inquiry into the disaster contained 'devastating criticism of the police'
• Weight placed on blood alcohol levels among the dead was 'inappropriate'
• The Sun allegations originated from police and a local MP
An independent report into the Hillsborough stadium disaster has concluded that South Yorkshire Police and the ambulance service made "strenuous attempts to deflect blame" for the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters onto the fans.
Dr Bill Kirkup, a member of the panel, told a press conference 41 of the 96 fans who died had "evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15pm" if the emergency response had been adequate.
An original inquest ruled that all those who lost their lives were dead or brain dead by 3.15pm, meaning the failings of the emergency services after that time were not scrutinised.
Dr Kirkup said: "Twenty eight people had definite evidence that they didn't have obstruction of the bloodflow, 16 people had definite evidence of heart and lungs continuing to function for a prolonged period after the crush.
"In total 41 therefore had evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15. What I can't say is how many of them could, in actuality, have been saved.
"But I can say is that, potentially, it was in that order of magnitude."
The 394-page report concludes that police and ambulance service statements were doctored in an attempt to avoid responsibility for the failings of crowd control that were the primary cause of the disaster in April 1989.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel also raises "profound concerns about the conduct an appropriateness of the inquests".
The report concludes that the decision of the coroner to rule that all 96 victims died in the same way, and to impose a 3.15pm cut-off time on the inquest, was "unsustainable".
The panel said there was evidence that a number of those that died were alive after the 3.15pm cut-off. The original inquest recorded 96 cases of accidental death, but the families of the deceased have called for those verdicts to be quashed.
In the aftermath, the police claimed that violent behaviour by drunken Liverpool supporters who arrived without tickets was the primary cause of the disaster.
Having reviewed more than 450,000 previously unseen documents, the panel concludes: "The evidence shows conclusively that Liverpool fans neither caused nor contributed to the deaths of 96 men, women and children".
The panel said the Police Federation, "supported informally by the SYP Chief Constable" sought to develop and publicise a version of events derived in police officers' allegations of drunkenness, ticketless fans and violence.
"The vast majority of fans on the pitch assisted in rescuing and evaluating the injured and the dead," the panel said.
The documents disclosed to the panel also revealed that further attempts were made to "impugn the reputations of the deceased by carrying out Police National Computer checks on those with a non-zero alcohol level."
There is no record of these tests or their results in the medical notes of the survivors and in some there was "no apparent medical reason for the test".
The extent of this testing remains unknown, the report says.
The report also says: "There was no evidence to support the proposition that alcohol played any part in the genesis of the disaster and it is regrettable that those in positions of responsibility created and promoted a portrayal of drunkenness as contributing to the occurrence of the disaster and the ensuing loss of life without substantiating the evidence."
The weight placed on alcohol levels in the Coroner's summing up was "inappropriate and misleading", the panel found.
The chairman of the panel, the Bishop of Liverpool the Rt Rev James Jones, said: "The documents disclosed to and analysed by the panel show that the tragedy should never have happened.
"There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and in its aftermath there were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto the fans. The panels detailed reports shows how vulnerable victims, survivors and their families are when transparency and accountability are compromised."
Prime Minister David Cameron offered a "profound" apology to the families of the 96 people who died, telling the House of Commons that today's report made clear that "the Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster".
Mr Cameron said that Attorney General Dominic Grieve will review the report as quickly as possible in order to decide whether to apply to the High Court to quash the original, flawed inquest and order a new one. It will be for the court to make the final decision.