Families applaud as court sequel to football tragedy looms
BRITAIN: The families of the Hillsborough victims have hailed the ‘‘beginning of the end’’ in their 28-year struggle for justice, following a decision to prosecute the match day police commander over 95 deaths.
Five other people have also been charged with offences surrounding the deaths of Liverpool fans at Hillsborough stadium in 1989.
The victims’ relatives broke into applause at being told yesterday that former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield and retired chief constable Sir Norman Bettison would be facing criminal charges. The prosecution against Duckenfield represents one of the largest number of homicide victims ever brought before the courts in a single case.
Two other former senior officers and South Yorkshire Police’s lawyer have been charged with perverting the course of justice, while the Sheffield Wednesday football club’s former sec- retary has been charged with health and safety offences.
The decision follows a dogged campaign by the Hillsborough families to bring authorities to account for the events leading up to the tragedy on April 15, 1989, and the alleged coverup after it.
Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said relatives had suffered ‘‘hell on Earth’’ in pursuit of the truth.
‘‘To me now, this is the beginning of the end,’’ said Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the tragedy.
‘‘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.’’
Duckenfield, 72, who was the officer in command on the day of the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, faces manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 ‘‘men, women and children’’.
The Crown Prosecution Service was unable to charge him with the manslaughter of the 96th victim, Anthony Bland, on a technicality because he died almost four years later.
Bettison, 61, who retired as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, has been charged with four offences of misconduct in public office for allegedly lying over his involvement in the aftermath and about the ‘‘culpability of fans’’.
Former chief superintendent Donald Denton and ex-detective chief inspector Alan Foster have been charged with intent to pervert the course of justice. So too has Peter Metcalf, who was the solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police at the previous inquiry and the first inquests.
Trevor Hicks, who lost daughters Sarah and Vicki, said: ‘‘This is a success for society at large, not just for us. There will be six people facing criminal charges who might not have done if we hadn’t have been resilient and all stuck together and fought this long fight.’’ – Telegraph Group