Three Hillsborough trials expected for six men charged over the disaster

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, who has been charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 of the 96 disaster victims. Picture taken in 2015 by Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, who has been charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 of the 96 disaster victims. Picture taken in 2015 by Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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Three trials are anticipated for the six men facing charges relating to the Hillsborough disaster, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The CPS issued an update on proceedings following its announcement last month that match commander David Duckenfield, 72, would face charges along with five others.

An application to lift a stay imposed after a prosecution of Duckenfield in 2000 will have to be approved by a High Court judge before the retired chief superintendent can appear in court charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 of the 96 victims of the 1989 disaster.

Former Sheffield Wednesday safety officer Graham Mackrell, retired South Yorkshire Police officers Donald Denton, Alan Foster and Sir Norman Bettison and former force solicitor Peter Metcalf are due to appear at Warrington Magistrates' Court on August 9.

A CPS spokesman said three separate trials were anticipated if the application to lift the stay was successful and the defendants pleaded not guilty.

He said Duckenfield was expected to stand trial along with Mackrell, who is charged with two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Metcalf, Denton and Foster, all charged with doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice related to the amending of police officers' statements, would be expected to stand trial together.

The spokesman said a third trial was anticipated for former Merseyside and West Yorkshire chief constable Bettison, 61, who is charged with two offences of misconduct in a public office following statements he made about the disaster in 1998 and 2012.

The decision on trials would be subject to representations by the defendants.

If the cases are sent to crown court by magistrates, a further hearing is expected to be held at Preston Crown Court on September 6.

The venue for potential trials has not yet been decided.

The CPS said counsel Richard Matthews QC and Christine Agnew QC had been instructed to prosecute cases against Duckenfield and Mackrell.

Sarah Whitehouse QC and Mark Weekes will prosecute cases against the other defendants.

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 cup-tie began against Nottingham Forest.

Last month the CPS 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.