Hillsborough: `First court appearance` for former officers and force solicitor
Three retired police officers, including Sir Norman Bettison, and the force solicitor are due in court today over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.
Three retired police officers, including Sir Norman Bettison, and the force solicitor are due in court today over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath. Former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, ex-South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, and solicitor Peter Metcalf, who acted for the force following the disaster, are due at Warrington Magistrates` Court today. They will face their first court hearing alongside the former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell since being charged over the 1989 tragedy. Sir Norman, who was a SYP chief inspector at the time and went on to become chief constable of the West Yorkshire and Merseyside forces, is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office over alleged lies in accounts of his involvement in the disaster. Ex-Chief Superintendent Denton, former Detective Chief Inspector Foster and Mr Metcalf are each charged with two offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice relating to amendments made to police officers` statements following the tragedy. Mr Mackrell, who was the safety officer for the football club, is charged with two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence. Match day commander ex-Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was in charge of the force`s operation at Hillsborough on the day, faces 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter but will not be formally charged until an application to lift a stay imposed after a prosecution in 2000 has been approved by a High Court judge. Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium as their FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest began. Last month the Crown Prosecution Service said there would be no manslaughter prosecution over the death of the 96th casualty, Anthony Bland, as he died almost four years later, and under the law in 1989 his death is now `out of time` to be prosecuted. The case follows an inquest last year into the tragedy that ruled the Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed. Speaking in June of this year when the charges were first brought, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Alan Billings said: “The start of criminal proceedings against these individuals will hopefully lead to a measure of closure for the family members and those officers who have lived under the shadow of the disaster for 28 years.”