Six former police officers and officials charged over the Hillsborough disaster have launched applications to stop their prosecutions.
Families of the 96 men, women and children who died in the crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final had celebrated the charges but the case has been delayed by a series of legal hurdles.
A judge has imposed reporting restrictions on submissions made by lawyers representing match commander David Duckenfield, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, retired police officers Donald Denton, Alan Foster and Sir Norman Bettison, and solicitor Peter Metcalf.
All six have applied to stay any prosecution as an “abuse of process”, while a number of separate bids to dismiss the charges against them will be made.
Judge Sir Peter Openshaw is expected to hear the arguments for up to 10 days at Preston Crown Court.
He will also hear an application from the Crown Prosecution Service to lift a historical stay on Mr Duckenfield, which was put in place by another judge in 2000 following a private prosecution by families of the Hillsborough victims.
The 73-year-old, who was South Yorkshire Police’s commander for the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, stands accused of 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter.
Mr Duckenfield cannot be prosecuted for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.
He is set go on trial in September at Preston Crown Court alongside 68-year-old Mr Mackrell, who is charged with two offences involving Hillsborough Stadium’s safety certificate and a health and safety offence.
Mr Denton, 80, Mr Foster, 71, and Mr Metcalf, 68, who acted for South Yorkshire Police following the disaster, are scheduled to go on trial in January next year.
They are each charged with two counts of committing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice relating to amendments made to police officers' statements following the tragedy.
Sir Norman, who was a South Yorkshire Police chief inspector and sat in the force’s Hillsborough liaison unit before becoming the chief constable of Merseyside Police and West Yorkshire Police, faces trial in May 2019.
The 62-year-old is charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office over accounts of his involvement in the disaster.
Applications for charges to be dismisssed are to be made on behalf of Mr Denton, Mr Foster, Mr Metcalf and Sir Norman.
The defendants have previously indicated they would plead not guilty to all charges.
Additional reporting by PA
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