Five men charged following an investigation into the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath are due to appear in a crown court for the first time later today.
Former West Yorkshire and Merseyside chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, 61, is expected to appear at Preston Crown Court along with fellow retired police officers Donald Denton, 79, and Alan Foster, 70, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 67, and solicitor Peter Metcalf, 67, who acted for South Yorkshire Police following the 1989 disaster.
Match commander David Duckenfield, 72, also faces 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter but will not be formally charged and appear in court with the other five until an application to lift a stay on prosecution at the High Court has been heard.
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Today’s hearing for the other five is expected to deal largely with administrative and procedural matters ahead of a trial or trials at a later date.
The case was sent to Preston Crown Court after all five made their first court appearance at Warrington Magistrates’ Court last month.
At that hearing no formal pleas were entered but during proceedings the court was told through lawyers for the defendants all five indicate they will be pleading not guilty when the charges are put to them at crown court.
Bettison, who was a chief inspector in South Yorkshire Police at the time of the tragedy, is charged with four offences of misconduct in a public office over alleged lies in accounts of his involvement in the disaster.
Mackrell, who was the safety officer for the football club, is charged with two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.
Denton, Foster and Metcalf are each charged with two offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice relating to amendments made to police officers’ statements following the tragedy.
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 against Nottingham Forest began.
All the defendants are on bail.