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Theresa May pays tribute to Hillsborough families

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Media captionTheresa May said the families had "never faltered" in their resolve

Home Secretary Theresa May has praised the "extraordinary dignity and determination" of the Hillsborough families.

She was speaking after inquests concluded that 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed in the disaster.

"The terrible events of Saturday 15 April 1989 shocked this country and devastated a community," she said.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said "those responsible must be held to account".

Calling for transparency about clashes between miners and police at Orgreave earlier in the 1980s, Mr Burnham said there had been a "27-year cover-up".

He said he did not believe the Hillsborough families would have the "full truth" until "we know the truth about Orgreave".

Ms May said it was not possible for MPs to understand what the Hillsborough families had been through.

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She said for 27 years the families and survivors "fought for justice from the authorities that should have been trusted, and have laid blame and tried to protect themselves."

The families "have never faltered", she said, and commended their courage, determination and resolve.

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Image caption Fresh tributes are being left at Hillsborough stadium following the conclusion of the inquests

"No-one should have to endure what the families and survivors have been through and no-one should have to fight for year after year and decade after decade for the truth."

She said: "Clearly the jury's determination that those who died were unlawfully killed is of great public importance."

"It overturns in the starkest way possible the verdict of accidental death returned at the original inquests.

"However, the jury's findings do not, of course, amount to a finding of criminal liability, and no-one should impute criminal liability to anyone while the ongoing investigations are still pending."

She read out the potential offences under investigation including gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in a public office, perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption The crush developed in the Leppings Lane terraces of Hillsborough stadium during a 1989 FA Cup semi-final

David Cameron said the inquests' conclusion "marked a momentous day for the family and friends of the 96 victims".

He said: "Over the last 27 years, their search for justice has been met with obfuscation and hostility, instead of sympathy and answers.

"As I said to the House in 2012 about the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, it's wrong that the families had to wait for so long and to fight so hard just to get to the truth.

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Media captionFormer Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie: "I was completely duped"

"I know the whole house will want to join me in praising their courage, their patience and their resolve. They've never faltered in the pursuit of the truth and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to the "dignity" of campaigning relatives, praising their "steadfastness and determination".

Mr Burnham said there were three reasons how "something so obvious" was finally outlined 27 years later in the inquest jury's conclusions.

He said: "First, a police force which has consistently put protecting itself above protecting people harmed by Hillsborough.

"Second, collusion between that force and complicit print media. Third, a flawed judicial system that gives the upper hand to those in authority over and above ordinary people."

The politicians were speaking after calls were made for senior police officers to be held accountable for the disaster.

South Yorkshire Police said the force had made "a full apology" for its failures in 2012 and had "stood by that ever since".

In a statement, the force said Chief Constable David Crompton "unequivocally accepted the jury's conclusions".

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Image caption A service in memory of the victims will be held at Liverpool's St George's Hall later

A commemoration service will take place at Liverpool's St George's Hall from 17:45 BST.

It will see 96 lanterns and 96 red roses left on the steps of the building in memory of the victims.

Meanwhile, The Sun newspaper has been criticised for not carrying the story of the inquests' conclusions on its front page on Wednesday.

The paper has long been criticised for running a front-page story headlined "The Truth" after the disaster, alleging some fans had picked victims' pockets and urinated on police.

It ran a full-page apology in 2012 over its reporting of the disaster after years of criticism.

Speaking after the jury's conclusions, former editor Kelvin McKenzie said he had been "duped" by false information at the time of the story, and was "profoundly sorry for the hurt" it had caused.

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