Nerves, anxiety and tension were palpable as Lord Justice Goldring asked the nine-strong panel whether the behaviour of the supporters on the day may have contributed to the harrowing events. The threshold – “may have contributed” – felt low. The response of the foreperson was emphatic. “No,” she offered.
And there, in a split second, was vindication.
There were more tears, more screams, more applause. A happy type of uproar and, of course, relief.
“If I’d got the verdict unlawful killing and any of our fans had been blamed I would’ve told them to shove that verdict,” said Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and whose son James, 18, was among those who lost their life.
The extent of the attempted cover up by South Yorkshire Police, their squalid negligence before and after events on April 15 1989 which could now lead to criminal proceedings, and the failings of the establishment make this tragedy a national scandal.