A BURNLEY survivor of the Hillsborough stadium disaster has spoken of his mixed emotions following the shocking revelations of an independent inquiry into the tragedy.
Chris Whittle was in the Leppings Lane end on that fateful day on April 15th, 1989, when a crush killed 96 Liverpool supporters during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Although Chris escaped with minor injuries, the psychological scars haunted him for years, and he has only recently felt strong enough to start watching his beloved Reds again.
A report, compiled by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, has now revealed massive failings on the part of emergency services to react to the impending disaster, and even more shockingly, the subsequent cover-up of evidence by some members of South Yorkshire Police.
Chris, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for years, travelled to Liverpool on Wednesday, when the findings from the report were finally released, and attended a vigil at the city’s St George’s Hall.
He said: “It was a very emotional and difficult day, but I felt I had to be there.
“I got the train over myself and bumped into another Hillsborough survivor.
“It was a solemn day but there was finally some happiness. My over-riding emotion was one of relief.
“I think we all feel that we have been totally vindicated and that what has come out was what we have been saying for 23 years.
“There were a lot of very hurtful and insulting comments written by certain sections of the media following the tragedy and these have now been proven to be lies.
“I am also pleased the Prime Minister made a full and frank apology.
“However, we are now only halfway there. Now the truth is out we want justice.
“We want to see the original inquest verdict of accidental death overturned and we want some accountability for the shameful cover-up.”
Chris (51), of Beckenham Court, has recently written a book on his experiences, With Hope in Your Heart, which he hopes will exorcise the demons of that fateful day and raise money towards the justice campaign.
The Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop in Walton Breck Road, opposite the Kop at Anfield, has taken 35 copies to sell.
Chris added: “I am pleased the shop has taken the book.
“I hope it will raise some money for the campaign and also for post-traumatic stress disorder charities.
“A huge weight has lifted from my shoulders with the findings of the report.
“Now we will fight on for the justice the victims and their families deserve.”