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Thursday, April 15, 1999 Published at 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK


Plea for Hillsborough justice

The Kop stand at Anfield was full of families, friends and well-wishers

The memorial service for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster has been used to make an impassioned plea for justice.

The chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group which represents the victims' families attacked the inquiry into the disaster in 1989.

Speaking at the service at Anfield to mark the 10th anniversary of the UK's worst stadium tragedy, Trevor Hicks said the Home Secretary Jack Straw had been wrong not to reopen the inquiry in February 1998 when it emerged that some police statements had been altered.

Mr Hicks also denounced those who said it was time to move on.

The BBC's John Thorne: A candle was lit in memory of every man, woman and child
About 10,000 people gathered for the moving service where a candle was lit for each victim.

In the famous Kop stand, the clock stood still at 3.06pm - the time the referee blew his whistle to stop the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when it became clear that a major tragedy was unfolding in one of the stands at Hillsborough.

Trevor Hicks introduces an emotional rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone
Families, friends and well-wishers observed a minute silence at the same time on Thursday - signalled by the whistle of Ray Lewis, the referee in charge of the match 10 years ago.

Players, past and present, including Robbie Fowler, Alan Hansen and Steve McManaman, joined team coach Gerard Houllier for the service conducted by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones.

[ image: Hillsborough 1989: A tragedy unfolds]
Hillsborough 1989: A tragedy unfolds
The service got under way with a gospel choir before the bishop made his opening address.

The names of the victims were read from the memorial book and floral tributes were laid at a plaque bearing their names.

The Reverend James Jones: The wound is still very deep
Hillsborough Family Support Chairman Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters in the disaster, thanked all those who had offered support and sympathy before making his plea for justice.

The ceremony ended with an emotional rendition of the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.

Prime minister's message

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, issued a message to those commemorating the disaster.

"It is right and proper to take time to reflect on the events of Hillsborough 10 years ago. We must never see a repeat of that day," he said.

Among those attending the memorial was the Sports Minister Tony Banks.

In a statement, Mr Banks said the memory of the football fans who lost their lives "must never be forgotten".

"It is no comfort to the families of the 96 fans who died at that football match to know that grounds today are much safer and more civilised places to visit. It is inappropriate to talk of good coming from the tragedy.

"But I do believe we have learned lessons and I know that there is a collective will to make sure this can never happen again," he said.

Football community's tribute

At last Sunday's FA Cup semi-finals there was one-minute's silence in honour of the dead. The gesture will be repeated during this weekend's fixtures.

Families of the victims and many survivors believe that true responsibility for the logistical failures has never been accepted.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group is now pursuing a private prosecution of the two most senior South Yorkshire police officers on duty at the ground.

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