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HomeUK NewsHillsborough trial collapses as officers acquitted

Hillsborough trial collapses as officers acquitted

The ruling handed down sees two retired Police officers and a former solicitor being acquitted of crimes following the Hillsborough disaster

The trial of the two retired police officers and the former solicitor of the police force that were accused of perverting the course of justice after the Hillsborough disaster has collapsed after the judge had ruled that there was no case to answer.

The two retired South Yorkshire Police officers Donald Denton, 83, and Alan Foster, 74, and the police force’s former solicitor Peter Metcalf, 71, have all been acquitted by the judge.

The three men had each been accused of two counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

It was alleged that they were involved in a process of amending police officers’ statements to minimise the blame put upon South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough disaster at the FA Cup semi-final on the 15th of April 1989, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

This comes after Boris Johnson’s comments about women wearing the burka have given an impression that the Conservative Party is “insensitive to Muslim communities”, a report has said.

The ruling was handed down on Wednesday at the Nightingale court at the Lowry theatre in Salford.

Judge Mr Justice William Davis said the amended statements were intended for a public inquiry into safety at sports grounds led by Lord Justice Taylor, but that was not a course of public justice.

He concluded there was no case fit for consideration by the jury based on any of the six counts on the indictment.

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In the ruling, he said: “I repeat my observation about the anxiety and distress being felt by the families of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

“These proceedings have been very drawn-out following a lengthy trial process involving the match commander.

“I know the strength of feeling there was after his acquittal. I am aware that these proceedings also have been observed with interest.

“However, whatever the anxiety and distress, I have to determine whether there is evidence to support the particular criminal offence with which these defendants have been charged.

“In concluding that there is not, that is all I do.”

The trial had heard statements were amended to remove criticism of the force.

But expert witness Sir Robert Francis QC told the jury there was no legal duty of candour for police at a public inquiry.

This comes after government advice has emerged urging people not to travel into and out of areas hardest hit by the Indian Covid variant, unless necessary. The Covid guidance for Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside says people in these areas should try to avoid meeting indoors.

Mr Denton, Mr Metcalf and Mr Foster were all charged in 2017 following an investigation conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the allegations of a cover-up by police force following the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Norman Bettison, who was a chief inspector in 1989 who went on to become chief constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire, had been charged with misconduct in a public office as part of the investigation, but these charges were later dropped in August of 2018.

David Duckenfield, the match commander on the day, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in 2017 but he was then later cleared in 2019 at a retrial, after the jury of his first trial were unable to reach a verdict.

In May of 2019, the former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay a total of £5,000 costs after he was convicted of failing to ensure that the health and safety of the fans arriving at the ground on the day of the disaster.

Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job 🙂

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