Hillsborough police commander David Duckenfield to face 95 manslaughter charges over deaths of Liverpool supporters

Judge lifts historical stay preventing further legal proceedings against officer

Tom Barnes
Friday 29 June 2018 12:28
David Duckenfield faces 95 manslaughter charges in relation to the Hillsborough disaster
David Duckenfield faces 95 manslaughter charges in relation to the Hillsborough disaster

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield is to face trial for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Liverpool supporters after a judge lifted a stay on his prosecution.

Four other defendants charged with matters related to the disaster and its aftermath will also face trial following abuse of process arguments, which were heard earlier this month.

Around 10 relatives of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at the FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield stadium in 1989 were in Preston Crown Court on Friday to hear the ruling, while others watched proceedings via video link.

“I confirm that I grant the voluntary bill of indictment to allow prosecution against [Mr Duckenfield] for manslaughter to proceed. I decline to order a stay on that charge,” judge Sir Peter Openshaw told the court.

Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Mr Duckenfield faces 95 charges of gross negligence manslaughter following the crush in the stadium’s terrace pens during the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest almost three decades ago.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, who died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

The Crown Prosecution Service applied to lift a historical stay – halting further legal proceedings – on the retired police officer which was put in place in 2000.

Mr Duckenfield is set go on trial in September at Preston Crown Court alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 68, who is charged with an offence involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

The prosecution decided not to proceed with a second charge of breaching the stadium safety certificate against Mr Mackrell.

Three other defendants – retired police officers Donald Denton, 80, and Alan Foster, 71, and retired solicitor Peter Metcalf, 68, who acted for South Yorkshire Police following the disaster, are scheduled to go on trial in January 2019.

All three are charged with committing acts intended to pervert the course of justice.

“I decline to stay that prosecution; those charges must also, therefore, proceed to trial, presently scheduled for January next year,” the judge added.

An abuse of process argument for former Merseyside and West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, who is charged with misconduct in a public office, has been adjourned until 21 August.

A case management hearing for the case of Mr Duckenfield and Mr Mackrell is due to be held on Monday.

Additional reporting by PA

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