Hillsborough 96 posthumously awarded Freedom of Liverpool

The 96 people who died at Hillsborough
Image caption The stadium crush in April 1989 led to the deaths of 96 people

The 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster and former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish are to be awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.

Dalglish, who was manager at the time of the 1989 tragedy, ensured the club was represented at the fans' funerals.

Other key figures receiving the city's highest honour include the Rt Rev James Jones and Professor Phil Scraton.

In April, the 96 who died at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield were found to have been unlawfully killed.

'Wonderful tribute'

The Rt Rev James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, led the Hillsborough Independent Panel which uncovered the truth about the disaster in 2012.

Prof Scraton led the Panel's research team and his book, Hillsborough: The Truth, first published in 1999, is widely accepted as the definitive account of the disaster.

Those who receive the Freedom of the City later this year, including Marina Dalglish, will also be awarded a specially commissioned medal while a brass Freedom of Liverpool plaque is to be placed in the city's Town Hall honouring those who died.

The victims' families were awarded freedom of the city of Liverpool in 2009.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kenny and Marina Dalglish have supported the bereaved families

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the awards were "a wonderful tribute".

Dalglish said in an April interview on BBC Radio 5 live, that he and his wife tried "to give the (bereaved) families the support that their loved ones had given us."

"What these families must have been through... it's easy to say 27 years… they have been through some very, very bad days… and they have stayed totally true to their loved ones, they've fought the fight and come out triumphant," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the inquests provided "official confirmation" that fans were "utterly blameless".

The latest recipients will be formally recognised at St George's Hall later this year.

Analysis: Andy Gill, BBC North West Tonight

These awards recognise years, and in some cases decades, of selfless work by individuals on behalf of the Hillsborough campaign.

Kenny Dalglish was already widely loved in Liverpool as a player and manager before he spent weeks after the disaster comforting the bereaved and attending funerals.

His sharp responses to questions in the new inquests about allegedly drunk and ticketless fans at Hillsborough only added to the affection in which he's held.

His wife Marina was by his side in the dark days after the tragedy.

But the most important new names on the Freedom Roll at Liverpool Town Hall will be those of the 96.

The dead, and the memories they left for the living, are always at the heart of everything the Hillsborough campaigners do.

Image copyright WPA Pool
Image caption Rt Rev James Jones and Professor Phil Scraton were on the Hillsborough Independent Panel between 2009 and 2012

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Tony Concepcion, said: "The campaign for truth has been a long and difficult struggle and has succeeded, in part, thanks to the determination and support of the people we are honouring."

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the posthumous honour was going "to the 96 innocent people who the whole world now knows paid the ultimate price for the failings and actions of others, and who have been disgracefully smeared over many years."

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