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    Liverpool fans place a banner about the Hillsborough justice campaign ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Sunderland and Liverpool at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.

    Six People Charged Over Deaths of 96 Football Fans at Hillsborough in 1989

    © AP Photo / Scott Heppell
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    Relatives of the 96 Liverpool football fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989 have Wednesday, June 28, been told six individuals will be charged in connection with the disaster. The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed former police commander David Duckenfield will be charged with manslaughter.

    In April 2016, an inquest jury recorded a verdict of unlawful killing on the 96 fans, who were crushed to death when police officers ordered gates at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's stadium to be opened moments before the start of the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

    Duckenfield, who was the match commander on the day of the match, will be charged with manslaughter by gross negligence in connection with 95 deaths.

    He could not be charged in relation to the death of Tony Bland, who died four years later after his life support machine was switched off. In 1989 English law forbid anyone being charged in connection with a death if the person died more than a year and a day after the original incident which caused their injuries. The law has since been changed.

    Duckenfield was the officer who gave the order for Gate C to be opened, causing thousands of fans to pack the terrace behind one of the goals, leading to a fatal crush.

    Norman Bettison, a former officer with South Yorkshire Police and subsequently Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police, is the most senior officer to be charged. He will be charged with four counts of misconduct in public office, relating to lies he allegedly told after the tragedy.

    Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and Former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster of South Yorkshire Police will both be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. They are accused of ordering officers to alter their accounts of the events of April 15, 1989.

    Also charged with offenses are Graham Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday's safety officer, who is accused of having "failed to take reasonable care as the safety officer in respect of the drawing up and keeping up to date of records and plans of the ground."

    He is also accused of failing "to take reasonable care as the safety officer in respect of arrangements for admission to the Hillsborough Stadium and particularly in respect of turnstiles being of such numbers as to admit at a rate whereby no unduly large crowds would be waiting for admission." 

    The sixth person to be charged will be Peter Metcalf, South Yorkshire Police's solicitor during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquest. He is accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice in that he allegedly altered statements and added false statements to West Midlands Police, who were investigating how the police in Sheffield had dealt with the events on the day.

    All the defendants will appear at Warrington magistrates court on August 9. They are expected to go on trial at a crown court later in the year, or possibly next year.

    But the CPS must first ask a high court judge to remove a "stay" of prosecution which was put in place in Mr. Duckenfield's case in 2000.   

    FILE - In this April 15, 1989 file photo police, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the field at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England.
    © AP Photo /
    FILE - In this April 15, 1989 file photo police, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the field at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England.

    Lawyers from the CPS met families and campaigners in Warrington, near Liverpool, on Wednesday (June 28) before announcing the decision to the public.

    The CPS have spent the last six months considering the evidence against 23 people — mostly police officers — who were identified by Operation Resolve and an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

    Sue Hemming, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, made the announcement to families of the deceased at a private meeting in Warrington Wednesday, June 28.

    "Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences. Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings," Ms. Hemming said.

    "Hopefully this is the journey to the end completely, of Hillsborough," said Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son died at Hillsborough. 

    The Hillsborough families have spent 28 years campaigning for "justice" for their loved ones.

    The match took place in the 1980s when football hooliganism was rife and some newspapers — most notably The Sun — printed false reports which claimed the disaster was caused by ticketless and drunk fans turning up late and trying to get into the ground.

    The Sun even claimed fans had urinated on dead bodies and picked the pockets of some of the victims, lies which have meant the newspaper is still to this day widely boycotted on Merseyside.

    One of those who reportedly spread these rumors was Irvine Patnick, the Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam, who was later knighted. He died in 2012 and there have since been calls for him to be posthumously stripped of his knighthood.

    Another lie, which emanated from the police, claimed that Liverpool fans had forced the fateful gate open when in fact the decision to open it was taken by a senior officer, Superintendent Duckenfield.

    Related:

    UK South Yorkshire Police Chief Apologizes for Hillsborough Stadium Deaths
    UK's Football Disaster: Inquest Says Hillsborough Deaths 'Unlawful Killing'
    Cameron Apologizes to Families of Hillsborough Victims
    Tags:
    crime, deaths, football fans, prosecution, police, court, Hillsborough disaster, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom, Liverpool
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