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  1. ITV Report

Ex-police chief and four others in dock over Hillsborough disaster

  • Video report by ITV News North of England Correspondent Damon Green

Five men including former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison have appeared in court to face charges in relation to the Hillsborough disaster.

The defendants faced a media scrum as they arrived at Warrington Magistrates' Court, where more than 30 relatives of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the 1989 tragedy were sat in the public gallery.

It is the first time the five men have appeared in court since the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in June they would be charged.

All five were bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on 6 September, following a 25-minute hearing.

No formal pleas were entered by the defendants.

The defendants and the charges they face

  • Sir Norman Bettison: The former Merseyside and West Yorkshire chief constable is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office. These are in relation to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.
  • Peter Metcalf: The solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquest is charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements.
  • Donald Denton: The former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent is charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements.
  • Alan Foster: The former South Yorkshire Police detective chief inspector is also charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements.
  • Graham Mackrell: Sheffield Wednesday Football Club's company secretary and safety officer at the time is accused of two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Though 96 died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium there will be no manslaughter prosecution over the death of 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.

Match commander David Duckenfield faces 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter but will not be formally charged and appear in court until an application to lift a stay imposed after a prosecution in 2000 has been approved by a High Court judge.

Match commander David Duckenfield has yet to be formally charged. Credit: PA

The five defendants spoke only to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth, at the start of the hearing and otherwise sat listening to proceedings.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC told Senior Dsitrict Judge Emma Arbuthnot, chair of the bench, the charges for Bettison, Denton, Foster and Metcalf can only be dealt with at the crown court.

Christine Agnew QC, acting prosecutor for Mackrell, said he had failed in his responsibilities as safety officer at the club.

His case was also sent to Preston Crown Court to be heard next month.

All the defendants were given unconditional bail by District Judge Arbuthnot, who told them: "You are being sent under various provision to Preston Crown Court and the first appearance there will be on September 6.

"If you don't attend there will be a warrant for your arrest and the case will take place without you. I'm sure you will attend."