By Sadie Robinson
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Top cop faces manslaughter trial for Hillsborough deaths

This article is over 4 years, 6 months old
Issue 2561
Hillsborough stadium where the disaster took place
Hillsborough stadium where the disaster took place (Pic: Gareth Simpson/Flickr creative commons)

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence in relation to the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster. Five others have also been charged.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died after a crush built up in pens 3 and 4 at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield.

Fresh inquests last year into the deaths exonerated fans of any blame for the disaster and ruled that the 96 were unlawfully killed.

Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign told Socialist Worker, “It’s welcome that there will be prosecutions. It is 27 years too late, but nevertheless it’s a great example of how a grassroots campaign can forward the cause for justice.

“It can show other campaigns, certainly that over the Grenfell Tower fire, that you should never give up. Let justice be quicker for them.”

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

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, “We will allege that David Duckenfield’s failures were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths.”

He is charged with the manslaughter of 95 fans. The 96th, Tony Bland, suffered severe brain damage and died nearly four years later.


The CPS said it would make an application to a High Court Judge to “order that the case can proceed” over Tony’s death.

Graham Mackrell, Peter Metcalf, Donald Denton, Alan Foster and Norman Bettison also face charges.

Mackrell was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s secretary at the time of the disaster. Peter Metcalf was South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) solicitor.

Denton was former SYP chief superintendent. Foster was former detective chief inspector. Bettison was a former SYP officer.

Mackrell faces two charges relating to alleged failures to carry out his duties as required.

Metcalf, Denton and Foster are charged with perverting the course of justice. The CPS said Metcalf “drafted an addendum statement and advice in respect of four South Yorkshire Police officers concerning the monitoring of pens”.

It said that Denton and Foster “ordered the amendment or alteration of accounts of South Yorkshire Police officers” relating to the disaster.

Denton provided these accounts to West Midlands Police, the force investigating SYP over the disaster, knowing that they had “been altered or amended”.

Bettison is charged with four offences of “misconduct in public office relating to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans”.

The CPS said, “Given his role as a senior police officer, we will ask the jury to find that this was misconduct of such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.”

It said Bettison “untruthfully” asserted that he had “never attempted to shift blame onto the shoulders of Liverpool supporters”.

All except Duckenfield are due to appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 9 August.


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