The 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy can finally rest in peace after an independent report said Liverpool fans were not to blame, campaigners said today

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But Hillsborough Families Support Group member Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough, said they would now press for criminal action against those involved in the disaster, adding: “The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow.”

Mr Hicks said the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report revealed shocking “depths of depravity” in the way the police tried to blame the fans after the disaster.

He said the report showed that “possibly as many as 41 people might have survived” if the disaster had been better handled.

He also rejected the “profuse apologies” offered by Kelvin MacKenzie, who was the editor of The Sun when it ran a front page story blaming fans for Hillsborough.

Mr MacKenzie, who wrote the headline The Truth on the controversial report, said in a statement: “Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline.

“I too was totally misled. Twenty three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium.”

But Mr Hicks said Mr MacKenzie’s words were “too little, too late”, calling him “lowlife, clever lowlife, but lowlife”.

Meanwhile, Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group and whose son James died, said the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster can finally rest in peace.

She said: “This is what the families and the fans have been fighting for 23 years. Without the truth, you cannot grieve and where there is deceit, you get no justice.”

The Footballer Supporters’ Federation (FSF) said the report was vindication for fans and their families.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said: “The report exonerates supporters who were victims of a smear campaign by certain elements of the media and senior police officers leading to allegations of drunken, ticketless fans storming the gates at Hillsborough’s Leppings Lane End. This was completely untrue.

“The Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report is vindication for those who have spent decades fighting for justice for their fellow fans, friends, or family members. Today is their day and their reaction to the report deserves to be listened to with the greatest possible care.”

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