Those charged include the police commander on the day, David Duckenfield, who is accused of gross negligence manslaughter.
The former chief of South Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettision, is charged with misconduct in public office for lying about the disaster and its aftermath.
The lawyer for the South Yorkshire Police was charged with acting “with intent to pervert the course of public justice” relating to changes in witness statements during an inquiry into the tragedy.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial,” said Sue Hemming, the head prosecutor for special crime and counter terror.
The tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield unfolded when more than 2,000 Liverpool soccer 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. 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.
Some 23 suspects, including individuals and organisations, had faced the possibility of charges.
The Hillsborough disaster prompted a sweeping modernisation of stadiums across England. Top division stadiums were largely transformed into safer, all-seat venues, with fences around fields torn down.
“All we want is accountability, nothing more and nothing less,” said Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the disaster.
- Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the match commander on the day of the disaster, is charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children. The CPS said it is alleged that 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”.
- Former South Yorkshire Police chief constable Norman Bettison is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office. The CPS said these relate to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.
- Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton is charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements. It is alleged that Denton oversaw the process of amending the statements and, in doing so, he did acts that had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice, the CPS said.
- Former South Yorkshire Police detective chief inspector Alan Foster is also charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements. The CPS said Foster was central to the process of changing the statements and took action to do so.
- Graham Mackrell, who was Sheffield Wednesday’s company secretary and safety officer at the time, is charged with two offences of contravening a term of condition of a safety certificate contrary to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. He is also charged with one offence of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of other persons who may have been affected by his acts or omissions at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The CPS said these offences relate to alleged failures to carry out his duties as required.
- Peter Metcalf, who was the solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquests, is charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements. The CPS said Metcalf was instructed by Municipal Mutual Insurance to represent the interests of the police force at the Taylor Inquiry and in any civil litigation that might result from the Hillsborough disaster.
-AP, PAJump to next article