Hillsborough: 'Cloud over Liverpool lifted'

Hillsborough vigil in Liverpool About 10,000 people attended a vigil in Liverpool to remember the 96 Hillsborough victims

After 23 years of fans being blamed for the Hillsborough disaster, there is a feeling across Liverpool that a cloud has finally lifted.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, released on Wednesday, revealed that South Yorkshire police officers tried to shift responsibility for the 1989 tragedy on to Liverpool fans.

Andy Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh who set up the panel, said their lies, published in The Sun and other newspapers, had "traumatised survivors" who had to live with that slur.

"Liverpool has had a cloud over it for 23 years," he said.

"The whole of the country has had this impression that the fans were partly to blame and people have lived with that for so long."

But the panel's disclosure of previously unseen documents, he said, had vindicated campaigners in their fight for the truth and exonerated Liverpool fans.

He added: "The names of the 96, of those survivors, of those Liverpool supporters were cleared and it's just not possible to put a value on that and what it means for Liverpool as a city."

'Proud and unified'

Over the years, in the fight for the truth about Hillsborough, Liverpool as a city has faced accusations of being a "self-pity city".

But Hillsborough justice campaigners say they have received thousands of messages of support since the report was published.

Peter Hooton, Hillsborough survivor and front man of Liverpool band The Farm, said it proved Liverpool was a city of fighters.

Start Quote

For 23 years we have had to defend ourselves... we now feel the mood has changed”

End Quote Peter Hooton, Hillsborough survivor and musician

"For 23 years we have had to defend ourselves," he said.

"We now have a feeling that the mood has changed across the country.

"We have had messages from people across the world, from football fans from across the country, from Everton fans, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United fans.

"Other fans know that it could so easily have been them. People recognise why we have been fighting so hard.

"But for us there is no celebration. There is a lot of sadness but there is also massive relief that we were exonerated."

Roy Bentham, of Liverpool football supporters' union Spirit of Shankly, said he was proud they had never given up.

"That tag of self-pity city - we got it in the neck for years but it never stopped our fight," he said.

"The evidence is in the public domain now, the people who doubted us can now see the facts and that we were right all along. As a city we can stand proud and unified."

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