FIVE men charged over the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath are due to appear in court for the first time today.
Former South Yorkshire Police officers Sir Norman Bettison, Donald Denton and Alan Foster are due at Warrington Magistrates’ Court along with solicitor Peter Metcalf, who acted for the police following the disaster, and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.
Bettison, who was a chief inspector in South Yorkshire Police at the time of the tragedy and went on to become Chief Constable of the West Yorkshire and Merseyside police forces, is charged with four counts of misconduct in 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 committing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice relating to amendments made to police officers’ statements following the tragedy.
Match day commander David Duckenfield, who was in charge of the police operation at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster, faces 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter but will not be formally charged until an application to lift a stay imposed after a prosecution in 2000 has been approved by a High Court judge.
A total of 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough on April 15 1989, at the club’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Last month the Crown Prosecution Service 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.