Anfield service honours the 96 Hillsborough victims

A minute's silence was held with a candle lit in memory of each victim

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Families of Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough gathered at Anfield for the annual memorial service.

The service, marking the tragedy's 24th anniversary, was the first since the Hillsborough Independent Panel exonerated fans of blame.

Relatives of those who died were joined by thousands of Liverpool supporters.

A standing ovation was given as the names of all 96 fans who died in the 1989 disaster were read out.

The service began with the hymn Abide With Me, sung by a choir.

A minute's silence was held at 15:06 BST, with a candle lit in memory of each victim, and later 96 balloons were released as You'll Never Walk Alone was sung.

'Justice served'

Liverpool owner John Henry told the stadium he was "humbled by the families' search for justice", adding: "Now there is a real belief justice will be served."

Anne Williams Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died at Hillsborough, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer

He said those that died and their families will "forever be a part of Liverpool Football Club".

The chairman of Everton, Bill Kenwright, said it was one of the most emotional days of his life as he received a standing ovation before giving a reading from the Bible.

He said: "My life will never be the same after today. I hope by next year, the 25th anniversary, you'll be celebrating the greatest victory any team has ever had."

He told the crowd he would not stop them singing when chants of "Justice for the 96" spontaneously broke out.

In September the independent panel blamed police and other agencies for the disaster at the football stadium in Sheffield, where Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

It also highlighted the subsequent cover-up by South Yorkshire Police following the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

'Stain on the nation'

Professor Phil Scraton, a member of the panel, told the packed stadium the publication of its report was one of the most important days of his life.

He also gave an emotional reading of the poem Their Voices Will Be Heard.

Following publication of the report the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced an investigation into 2,400 officers who were on duty at the time, which they said could take two years.

Liverpool FC owner John Henry (front row third left); Everton FC chairman Bill Kenwright (middle row left) and Everton manager David Moyes (middle row second left); Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (middle row third left) and player Steven Gerrard (middle row fourth left) Rival Liverpool and Everton FC bosses sit together for the Hillsborough memorial service

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, used her speech to urge the IPCC to conduct their investigation without delay as relatives get older.

She received an ovation from those attending the memorial when she said: "It's with great honour that I stand before you today and be able to say after nearly a quarter of a century that the real truth is out.

"That it took so long will always be a stain on this nation and certain individuals."

Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the 1989 tragedy, attended the service despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

On Sunday two memorials were unveiled in the city honouring the fans who died as a result of the 1989 disaster.

A memorial was unveiled on Old Haymarket in a public ceremony attended by 300 people, while an antique clock was installed at Liverpool Town Hall and set to 15:06, the time of tragedy.

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