Socialist Worker

Hillsborough judge confirms any future trials can be held in Preston

Issue No. 2571

Preston Crown Court where future trials of six men charged in relation to the Hillsborough football disaster could take place

Preston Crown Court where future trials of six men charged in relation to the Hillsborough football disaster could take place (Pic: Ian Taylor)

The trials of six men charged in connection with the Hillsborough football disaster can be held at Preston Crown Court, a judge has ruled.

Mr Justice William Davis was speaking at a hearing on Wednesday of last week.

Some 96 Liverpool football fans died as a result of the disaster in April 1989. Relatives of those who died have welcomed the decision.

Sir Norman Bettison, Donald Denton, Alan Foster, Graham Mackrell and Peter Metcalf were in court for the hearing.

Bettison was a South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officer at the time of the disaster.

Denton is a former SYP chief superintendent and Foster is a former detective chief inspector.

Mackrell was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s secretary in 1989. Metcalf was SYP’s solicitor.

Bettison is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office.

Metcalf, Denton and Foster are charged with perverting the course of justice. Mackrell is charged with two offences of failing to carry out his duties as required.

David Duckenfield, who was match commander on the day of the disaster, is charged with manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 people.


He wasn’t in court as a judge must agree a request to overturn a stay of prosecution he was granted in 2000 before he can be tried.

All deny the charges.

Davis told the hearing that whether the trials go ahead is “overwhelmingly likely to be a live issue”.

“All have indicated there is likely to be an application to stay proceedings as being an abuse of process,” he said.

Lawyers discussed the timeframe for trials at last week’s hearing.

An initial hearing on the case to lift the stay preventing the prosecution of Duckenfield is due to take place on 11 and 12 January next year.

If this application is successful and the trial goes ahead, it will begin in September next year.

Mackrell will be tried alongside Duckenfield.

The trials of Denton, Foster and Metcalf, if they go ahead, would likely begin in January 2019.

The trial of Bettison would then begin in April or May 2019.

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