Six charged over Hillsborough disaster
Duckenfield, 72, along with former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, 61, two other senior ex-South Yorkshire Police officers, the then force solicitor and the safety boss of Sheffield Wednesday FC, will be prosecuted, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced.
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of Hillsborough Family Support Group, described yesterday’s announcement to the families as the “beginning of the end”.
Mrs Aspinall, whose son, James, 18, died in the tragedy, said: “No-one should have to go through what the families have gone through for 28 years to try and get to the truth and to get accountability.
“I think now what has been achieved today will change things for the good of this nation and I think that’s the legacy of our 96, that they will have left behind.”
Duckenfield, a former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent and the officer in charge at the football ground on the day, faces 95 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence, while Bettison, a chief inspector at the time of the disaster, faces four offences of misconduct in a public office over alleged lies in accounts of his involvement in the 1989 disaster.
In a statement, Bettison said: “I am disappointed to be charged with misconduct in a public office. The charge is not in relation to my actions around the time of the disaster but in relation to comments I made years afterwards.
“I will vigorously defend my innocence as I have been doing for nearly five years.”
The Football Association, South Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Sheffield Wednesday FC and its architects and safety consultants will not be prosecuted, the CPS said.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989, as their FA Cup semi-final cup tie against Nottingham Forest began.
After decades of campaigning by relatives, an inquest jury last year ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police blunders, paving the way for prosecutions, after the quashing of original inquest verdicts in 1991 of accidental death.