The jury at the Hillsborough inquests have been told they have the option to consider if the 96 victims of the football disaster were unlawfully killed.

Coroner, Sir John Goldring, said the question of unlawful deaths was “the most controversial” and explained to the jury that they should not use the word “crime” to describe how the 96 Liverpool fans died, but “failure”, “inappropriate” and “inadequate” could be used instead.

Unlawful killing is one of 14 questions the jury will consider in making its verdict, which also include questions as to whether opportunities were missed to save lives by private and public organisations, including the police, ambulance service, and football executives.

In summing up the two years of evidence into the disaster, Goldring also told the jury to consider whether the deaths of the Liverpool fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield were contributed to by “error or omission” by emergency services, match planners, football supporters and stadium design.

Since the inquest began in March 2014, the jury has heard evidence of 500 witnesses, including survivors, police, and medical practitioners.

The jury is due to retire to consider its verdicts on 22 February.

Questions to by considered by Hillborough jury

  1. Do you agree with the following statement which is intended to summarise the basic facts of the disaster: “On 15 April 1989 96 people died at the disaster as a result of crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace following the admission of a large number of supporters to the stadium through exit gates.”
  2. Police planning for the semi final match – was there any error or omission in police planning or preparation for the semi final which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
  3. Policing of the match and the situation at the turnstiles – Was there any error or omission in policing on the day of the match which caused or contributed to a dangerous situation developing at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?
  4. Policing of the match and the crush on the terrace – Was there any error or omission by commanding officers which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
  5. The opening of the gates – When the order was given to open the exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium was there any error or omission by the commanding officers in the control box which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace?
  6. Are you satisfied so that you are sure that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?
  7. Behaviour of the supporters – Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? If yes was that behaviour unusual or unforeseeable?
  8. Defects in Hillsborough stadium – Were there any features of its design, construction and layout which were dangerous or defective and which caused or contributed to the disaster?
  9. Licensing and Oversight of the stadium. Was there any error or omission in the safety certification and oversight of Hillsborough Stadium that caused or contributed to the disaster?
  10. Conduct of Sheffield Wednesday FC before the day of the match. Was there any error or omission by SWFC and its staff in the management of the stadium and/or preparation for the semi final match on 15 April 1989 which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?
  11. Conduct of Sheffield Wednesday FC on the day of the match. Was there any error or omission by SWFC and its staff on 15 April 1989 which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed at the Leppings Lane turnstiles and in the west terrace?
  12. Conduct of Eastwood and Partners (SWFC engineers) – should Eastwood and Partners have done more to detect and advise on any unsafe or unsatisfactory features of the stadium which caused or contributed to the disaster?
  13. Emergency response and the role of South Yorkshire Police – After the crush in the West Terrace had begun to develop was there any error or omission by the police which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
  14. Emergency response and the role of South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS) – After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the ambulance service SYMAS which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster?
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