In Brief

Hillsborough: Former police chiefs face charges

Match commander David Duckenfield charged with manslaughter, while Sir Norman Bettison faces four counts of misconduct

Six people, including two former senior police officers, are facing charges of criminal offences over the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

David Duckenfield, who was match commander for South Yorkshire Police at the time, has been charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children.

Hillsborough's 96th victim, Tony Bland, is not included in the charge as he died almost four years after the tragedy.

"The law as it applied then provided that no person could be guilty of homicide where the death occurred more than a year and a day later than the date when the injuries were caused," said the Crime Prosecution Service (CPS), reports Sky News.

The CPS will argue that Duckenfield's failure to take personal responsibility on the day was "extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives", said Sue Hemming, head of the special crime and counterterrorism division.

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."

Sir Norman Bettison, the former chief constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire police who was an inspector at the time, is facing four charges of misconduct in a public office.

Charges will also be filed against former police officers Donald Denton and lan Foster on counts of perverting the course of justice, along with solicitor Peter Metcalf, who represented South Yorkshire Police at the initial inquiry, and Sheffield Wednesday's former club secretary and safety officer Graham Mackrell, who faces charges of breaching health and safety legislation.

Barry Devonside, whose son Christopher, was killed in the disaster, "pumped his fist as he emerged from the meeting with the lawyers and other relatives of the 96", says the Daily Telegraph.

"Everybody applauded when it was announced that the most senior police officer on that particular day will have charges presented to him," he said.

The charges are "the latest significant landmark in a 28-year campaign for accountability" fought by the "families of the 96 people who died, survivors of the crush and the wider Liverpool and football supporting communities", says The Guardian.

"This is without doubt a critical decision, a crucial decision in their long campaign. It isn't, of course, the end of the road. Prosecutions are one thing, what the families will be looking for are successful prosecutions," Mike McCarthy of Sky News, who was at Hillsborough on the day of the tragedy.

"In a way we're pressing the reset button. We're going back 28 years to that day - 15 April 1989 - and we're starting afresh as far as families are concerned."

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group whose lost her son at the game,  said it was "definitely the start of the end". 

She added: "What has been achieved today will change things for the good of this nation. I think that is the legacy of our 96."

Hillsborough: CPS considers 23 criminal charges

13 January

Prosecutors are considering bringing criminal charges over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.

Evidence relating to 23 individuals and organisations was handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for consideration yesterday, following lengthy investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Operation Resolve.

"Final decisions are expected to take between three and six months," reports the Liverpool Echo.

Last year, the Hillsborough inquests concluded the 96 Liverpool football supporters who died in a crush at the ground in 1989 were unlawfully killed. No one has yet faced charges.

The suspects have not been named, but investigators said possible charges include gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

Elkan Abrahamson, a lawyer representing 20 of the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy, said his clients were relieved the files had been handed over to the CPS.

He said: "Given that the CPS have been working in tandem with the police and the IPCC for many years, we believe decisions should now be taken without further delay.

"We will continue to scrutinise the process and any decisions."


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