Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - Hillsborough accused in court bid to block prosecutions

Issue No. 2608

The Hillsborough football stadium, where a crush in April 1989 led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans

The Hillsborough football stadium, where a crush in April 1989 led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans (Pic: Gareth Simpson/Flickr)


Six people who face charges in relation to the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster are trying to block the trials from taking place.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died in the disaster following a crush in pens 3 and 4 at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground.

Lawyers began making applications on behalf of the six in a hearing at Preston Crown Court on Monday.

A previous hearing heard that they would apply to stay any prosecution over the disaster as an “abuse of process”.

The six include Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, whose trial is set to begin in September. He faces 95 charges of gross negligence manslaughter.

There can be no prosecution for the 96th victim of the disaster, Tony Bland, because he died over a year and a day after the crush.

The hearing in Preston will also address a separate application from the Crown Prosecution Service to lift a stay on Duckenfield that currently halts further legal proceedings.

Graham Mackrell, former secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, is charged with two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence. He is also due to go on trial in September.

Retired cops Donald Denton and Alan Foster, and retired South Yorkshire Police solicitor Peter Metcalf, are due to go on trial in January.

They are each charged with two offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

The charges relate to changes that were made to police officers’ statements following the disaster. Sir Norman Bettison, who was a chief inspector at South Yorkshire Police in 1989, is due to stand trial in May next year.

He is charged with four counts of misconduct in public office over alleged lies he told relating to his involvement in the disaster.


Tory claims terror law is ‘not sinister’

Home secretary Sajid Javid claimed proposed new anti-terror laws are “not part of a sinister strategy to create an Orwellian state”.

Ministers last week unveiled a raft of measures. A number of existing offences will be altered under the Counter?Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

For example, the offence of inviting support for a banned terror group will be extended to capture the expression of supportive opinions that are “reckless as to whether others will be encouraged to support the organisation”.

Campaign group Liberty argued the plans would “make thought-crime a reality”.

Other steps include raising from two to five years the maximum period fingerprints and DNA may be held on national security grounds—even in cases where a person has not been convicted of an offence. Javid is amending the crime of collecting information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover repeated viewing of online videos.


Carillion bosses cashed in

The Carillion collapse, which cost tens of thousands of jobs and forced £2.6 billion liabilities on the Pension Protection Fund, will end up costing more than £200 million.

Bosses at the collapsed firm spent thousands of pounds on their homes while the company went to ruin.

Chairman Philip Green built a gym and loft conversion at his £2.1 million mansion. Chief executive Richard Howson had a guest flat constructed next to his £2 million country farmhouse.

The Work and Pensions Committee blamed the “recklessness, hubris and greed” of Carillion’s bosses.

Howson pocketed £1.5 million in 2016, which included a £122,612 bonus and £231,000 in pension contributions.

He stood down but struck a deal that meant his salary would be paid for another year.


Fear, stress and outsourcing at the DWP

Only the Department for Work and Pensions would give firms failing to meet government quality standards two more years’ work.

Capita and Atos got nearly £255 million for Personal Independence Payment assessments last year—and still got them wrong.

A Work and Pensions committee report found their failings contributed to a “pervasive lack of trust” in the system. They added that the firms offered “untenable human costs” to claimants.

lSTRESS rates are soaring at the department. Figures show that in the year to March, 7,695 workers took 154,000 sick days for stress, anxiety or depression.

That was 9 percent of its 85,000 workforce and a 12 percent increase on the year before.

lLast week Esther McVey admitted up to 220,000 disabled people will have to wait all summer for benefit payments they are owed after the DWP lost a court case.


Millions are stuck on housing lists

Over one million families are stuck on council housing waiting lists for years, shock figures show today.

Only 290,000 homes were made available last year—leaving a national shortfall of more than 800,000 homes.

The housing charity Shelter says there are 1.15 million households on waiting lists. Almost two thirds are on lists for more than a year, while over a quarter wait for more than five years.


Northern Rail no risk to Tories

In 1830, the world’s first railway connecting two cities, Liverpool and Manchester, opened.

The first train to run on it, The Rocket, which could travel at 36mph, sadly killed senior Tory William Huskisson on its maiden journey.

The good news is it couldn’t happen today. The bad news is, it couldn’t happen because 188 years later Northern Rail trains rarely go that fast, if at all, and no senior Tory could be bothered to go north.


Hammonds are selling out fast

A lifesize model of Tory chancellor Philip Hammond is available. Trade in Hammonds has been relatively brisk. Well, they’ve sold 15 cardboard chancellors that this year at £34.49 a time—by contrast, only four Michael Goves have gone.


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