Hillsborough Charging Decisions

Posted on 05 July 2017 by Gareth Minty

Hillsborough Charging Decisions

In April 1989, during an FA Cup match held at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, overcrowding in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium led to the tragic deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters who were there to watch their team play Nottingham Forest.

Last year, a fresh inquest concluded that the victims had been unlawfully killed.    That inquest ran in parallel to two police investigations: Operation Resolve, an investigation into the events of the day of the match, and an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the conduct of individuals in the days and months following the match. In January of this year, files were submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by those investigations.

On 28 June 2017, the CPS announced that it had authorised the commencement of criminal proceedings against six individuals arising from their conduct either during the Hillsborough football disaster or in its aftermath.   

The details are as follows:

  • Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the South Yorkshire Police Match Commander on the day of the disaster, is to face proceedings in respect of 95 offences of gross negligence manslaughter (the law as it stood at the time means that the death of the 96th victim, Mr  Anthony Bland, cannot be included on account of the fact that Mr Bland died more than a year and a day after the events of April 1989);
  • Peter Metcalf, who was the South Yorkshire Police solicitor acting for the force during the Taylor Inquiry and the original inquests, is to be charged with offences of perverting the course of justice arising from alleged material changes made to witness statements;
  • Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster are to be similarly charged regarding the same alleged conduct concerning amended witness statements;
  • Former Chief Constable Norman Bettison, who is to be charged with four offences of misconduct in a public office arising from his conduct following the disaster, namely alleged lies that were told (including in relation to the role played by the fans in the events at Hillsborough); and
  • Graham Henry Mackrell, who was the company secretary and safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club at the time, is to be charged with offences contrary to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The CPS also considered the question of corporate criminal liability on the part of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, the Football Association, and South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service. However, for detailed legal reasons that are set out here, the decision has been taken not to bring proceedings against any of the corporate entities involved.