The Hillsborough Family Support Group have called for a fresh inquiry into the 1989 tragedy as criticism of the FA’s apology mounts.
Football Association chairman David Bernstein issued the apology to friends and relatives of the 96 people killed at Hillsborough on Thursday after an initial statement from the FA registered its ‘sadness’ at the disaster but made no apology for its role in it.
Following criticism of that initial response, Bernstein issued his own apology into the FA’s role after the association selected Hillsborough as a venue for the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, despite the ground not having a valid safety certificate at the time.
“We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected,” Bernstein said.
“This fixture was played in the FA’s own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the City of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club.
“This should never have happened. Nobody should lose their lives when setting out to attend a football match and it is a matter of extreme regret and sadness that it has taken so long for these findings to be published and the truth to be told.
“For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain and we have profound sympathy for them.”
Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, was dissatisfied with Bernstein’s apology.
“They have a lot to answer for and they were getting away scot-free,” said Aspinall.
“They finally apologised today on the radio. But the apology is not good enough.”
In a 396-page document presented by Hillsborough Independent Panel on Wednesday, it was shown that the FA had ignored warnings that a tragedy may occur, despite a similar crush happening at the ground in 1988 in a FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
The FA had also stopped using Hillsborough as an FA Cup venue following a crush in 1981 but had re-instated the venue six years later.
Despite the 1988 incident, the FA once again opted to use Hillsborough as the semi-final venue the following year, with documents detailing an exchange of letters relating to the tie’s organisation and safety precautions being left up to Sheffield Wednesday, the club which owned the stadium.
Given the latest revelations Michael Mansfield QC, the lawyer acting on behalf of the HFSG, has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to follow through on his apology to the victims and their families by holding a new inquiry into the disaster and the subsequent cover-up, where blame for the incident was deflected onto the Liverpool fans.
“If David Cameron means what he says, justice has to follow truth,” Mansfield said.
“They have a responsibility today to assess not just the question of unlawful killing but the cover-up and the perversion of the course of justice.”