Socialist Worker

After 30 years, the first conviction over Hillsborough but battle for justice continues

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2648

Flowers to remember the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster

Flowers to remember the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster (Pic: Edmund Gall/Flickr)

A jury has found former Sheffield Wednesday club safety officer Graham Mackrell guilty of a health and safety breach in relation to the Hillsborough football disaster.

He was found not guilty of a second charge after the prosecution decided not to pursue it.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of the 1989 disaster after being crushed at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground.

David Duckenfield was police match commander on the day of the disaster.

He was charged with 95 counts of manslaughter by gross misconduct.

The jury could not reach a verdict on the charges, and the Crown Prosecution Service will now seek a retrial.


Stephen Wright’s brother Graham died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster. Stephen told Socialist Worker, “There was an audible ‘yes’ in the courtroom when people heard that Mackrell had been found guilty.

“He is the only person to have been convicted of anything in relation to Hillsborough and it’s taken nearly 30 years.”

Stephen said that the fight for “truth and justice” for the victims of the disaster will continue.

“We’ll never give in,” he said. “The fight goes on.”

The trial had heard how fans were crushed in pens 3 and 4 at the Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough stadium.


A large crowd of fans had built up outside the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end. The court heard how 10,100 fans with standing tickets had to enter through just seven turnstiles.

Mackrell was found guilty of failing to take reasonable care to have sufficient turnstiles to prevent “unduly large crowds” waiting for admission.

The trial heard how police failed to take steps to prevent a build up of fans outside the turnstiles. The judge, Sir Peter Openshaw, said that “serious problems” had “certainly developed by 2.25pm” on the day.

Duckenfield agreed at 2.52pm to police requests to open a gate to relieve the pressure outside the turnstiles.

The court heard that most of the fans who entered went down a tunnel into pens 3 and 4.

The prosecution argued that Duckenfield gave no thought to where fans would go and failed to take measures to block the tunnel.

It said Duckenfield didn’t have an adequate grasp of the ground’s geography, and that he failed to give orders to officers on the ground about how to safely manage fans.

Duckenfield’s defence said that officers at the Leppings Lane end had failed to communicate the scale of the problem to Duckenfield, and had failed to take initiatives to keep fans safe.

It said there were serious radio problems on the day and argued that Duckenfield, who hadn’t commanded at match at Hillsborough before, shouldn’t have been put in charge of commanding the semi-final at Hillsborough.

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Wed 3 Apr 2019, 16:41 BST
Issue No. 2648
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