A Wigan survivor of the Hillsborough disaster said justice has been finally done as an inquest jury recorded verdicts of unlawful killing for the 96 victims.
Les Lloyd, from Ashton, was in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s ground for the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
His friend Martin Wild was one of the 96 and the 66-year-old said he hopes the families and their loved ones will now have closure.
He said: “It must be a relief, it must be, to know that they have been exonerated. They were not hooligans or drunks as the police and a certain newspaper made out.
“I was there that day and was described as one of the drunks that contributed to what happened.
“I can tell you, all I had to drink that day was a can of orange juice.”
It must be a relief, it must be, to know that they have been exonerated. They were not hooligans or drunks as the police and a certain newspaper made outLes Lloyd
Mr Lloyd, a dad of three, believes the inquest verdicts should now pave the way for criminal charges to be brought against those held responsible.
The Crown Prosecution Service reacted to yesterday’s findings by stating that it would now consider whether any charges will be levelled against any individual or corporate body.
Police chief David Duckenfield, who was responsible for opening an exit gate that allowed thousands to stream into the ground and then lied about the conduct of Liverpool fans, is among senior officials who could be facing further action.
Mr Lloyd said: “Mr Duckenfield should be facing criminal charges. He lied about fans smashing down the gate that he ordered to be opened.
“There is nowhere to hide for them now.
“They lied about what happened and statements were changed (for the first inquiry into the disaster).
“Hopefully they will pay the price for blaming innocent people. Justice has finally been done and hopefully we can now start to lay it all to rest.”
Mr Lloyd, who is a retired alarm engineer, was injured in the crush and has maintained that he would have died had a barrier in front of him not collapsed.
He said being in the terraces felt like “being hit by a bus” such was the pressure being exerted in the Leppings Lane end of the ground for Liverpool’s clash with Nottingham Forest.
He added: “I was 39 then and I’m 66 now, I have lived with this.
“There are things I can’t remember in my life but I can remember that day so vividly.
“I had three young children and I had to just get on with life to support my family.
“It is only with the help of my family and friends that I was able to keep going.”