These are the six people charged with criminal offences over the Hillsborough football disaster, more than 28 years after 96 people were killed in the worst tragedy in British sporting history.
They include four senior officers from South Yorkshire Police, a police lawyer, and an official from Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, which was hosting the match in April 1989.
The charges include manslaughter, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced the six names on Wednesday morning. They had been considering charging as many as 23 people. The six are:
- David Duckenfield, who was the Match Commander for South Yorkshire Police on the day of the disaster. He has been charged with the manslaughter of 95 of the 96 fans who died. Graham Henry Mackrell, who was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s company secretary and safety officer at the time of the disaster in 1989. He has been charged with breaching health and safety regulations. Peter Metcalf, the solicitor acting for the South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquests. He has been charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice. Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton of South Yorkshire Police. He has also been charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice. Former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster of South Yorkshire Police. He has also been charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice. Sir Norman Bettison, a former officer with South Yorkshire Police and subsequently Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police. He has been charged with four counts of misconduct in public office.
David Duckenfield was in charge of the police operation on the day of the disaster and has been charged with manslaughter – the most serious offence.
If convicted he faces life in prison. Describing the charges against him, Sue Hemming, the head of the CPS special crime and counter-terrorism division, said: “We will allege that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge his personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.”
Sir Norman Bettison
Bettison worked as a liaison officer for South Yorkshire Police in the wake of the disaster. He is accused of lying to the public about what happened during in 1989.
He later rose through the ranks and became chief constable at Merseyside Police and West Yorkshire Police. He was knighted in 2006.
Announcing charges against him, Hemming said the offence relates to “telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.”
She added: “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.”
After the decision was announced, Sir Norman said he was “disappointed to be charged” and said he will “vigorously defend” himself from the allegations.
The CPS decided not to charge six other police officers, concluding that there was not enough evidence to pin specific failures on any of them. It also decided not to charge ambulance workers and an FA employee.
The families of those killed in the April 1989 catastrophe had gathered in Warrington, around 20 miles outside Liverpool, to hear the decision slightly before the public announcement.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised their hunt for justice. “This prosecution, the enquiry only happened because of the incredible work of the Hillsborough campaign,” he said.
The tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield unfolded when more than 2,000 Liverpool fans flooded into a standing-room section behind a goal, with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for the match against Nottingham Forest.
— CPS (@cpsuk) June 28, 2017
The victims were smashed against metal anti-riot fences or trampled underfoot. Many suffocated in the crush.
At the time, hooliganism was common, and there were immediate attempts to defend the police operation and assign blame to the Liverpool fans.
A false narrative circulated that blamed ticketless and rowdy Liverpool fans – a narrative that their families have challenged for decades.
The original inquest recorded verdicts of accidental death. But the families challenged it and campaigned for a new inquiry. They succeeded in getting the verdicts overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police.
“All we want is accountability, nothing more and nothing less,” said Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the disaster.