Hillsborough: Five charged over disaster appear in court for first time

Three retired South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers, including Sir Norman Bettison, and the force solicitor are planning to deny the charges brought over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.

Aug 9, 2017

Three retired South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers, including Sir Norman Bettison, and the force solicitor are planning to deny the charges brought over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath. Former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison and ex-officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, and solicitor Peter Metcalf, who acted for the force following the disaster, appeared at Warrington Magistrates` Court today (August 9). They faced the first criminal court hearing since being charged over the April 1989 tragedy. Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who was the safety officer at the time, pleaded not guilty to three healthy and safety charges. No formal pleas were given by the other four men but their representatives indicated they will plead not guilty to all charges. 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. 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. Some 40 bereaved family members, who were outside the magistrates` building to see all the accused arrive, filled a seating area on one side of the court room. Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot adjourned the 22-minute hearing to September 6 at Preston Crown Court. All five defendants received unconditional bail. Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989 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.

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