Leading journalist John Keith believes the families of the Hillsborough victims would welcome criminal charges against those responsible for the disaster that claimed 96 lives at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
The jury at the Warrington inquest on Tuesday returned a verdict of ‘unlawful killings’, and that could now pave the way for further action against those responsible, notably match commander David Duckenfield, after the jury found his actions amounted to ‘gross negligence’.
And Keith, who was the Merseyside sports correspondent for the Daily Express at the time of the disaster, feels the families would back that course of action as they seek ultimate justice for their loved ones.
Keith told Julia Hartley-Brewer: “What charges, or not, are to be brought is not for me to say. Some of the families, having received this verdict with great satisfaction, I think will feel if the prosecution services believe there are grounds to bring criminal charges against other people then they will want it to happen.
“What they want in the end is absolute justice, so yes, I think that [criminal charges] will be taken on.”
Keith was one of the journalists at the heart of events back in 1989, and he hailed the importance of today’s verdict.
He added: “It’s a hugely significant verdict. It’s a landmark decision in legal history and, for the families, it’s the moment they dreamed of, not in a triumphant way, but in their quest for justice over so many years, especially with the first inquest, which was so unsatisfactory.
“The Campaign for Justice has been long. It’s taken its toll on many of the families – some of them sadly have died in the interim.
“Having spoken to people involved, and people in football, I thought there was a great doubt about the original inquest and the families knew that.
“Myself and some colleagues spent the next two of three weeks after Hillsbrough at Anfield day and night, and the stories of the families and the sight of the families, was absolutely unbelievable.
“The [accounts of] people who witnessed what happened but got back unscathed showed you there was huge culpability somewhere, and now the jury has decided it rests with the authorities.”