Hillsborough trial delayed again until April next year

Credit: PA

The trial has been delayed of two former police officers and a force solicitor charged with perverting the course of justice following the Hillsborough disaster.

Retired South Yorkshire Police officers Donald Denton, 81, and Alan Foster, 73, and retired solicitor Peter Metcalf, 70, who acted for the force following the 1989 disaster, were due to stand trial in January next year, accused of doing acts tending or intended to pervert the course of justice.

At a hearing at Preston Crown Court on Thursday (08 October), judge Mr Justice William Davis ruled the January trial date be vacated and instead fixed a trial to begin on April 19 2021, days after the 32nd anniversary of the disaster, on April 15 1989.

The judge ruled the reasons for the change in dates must not be reported yet.

Justice Davis, appearing via videolink from Preston Crown Court, said: "The trial date in relation to these three defendants now will not be in January of 2021 but will be on April 19 2021.

"Beyond that there will be no reporting of proceedings thus far."

The trial had been originally scheduled for April of this year but was again adjourned until January 2021 until it was put back further at the hearing on Thursday.

The three defendants, Denton, from Sheffield, Foster, from Harrogate and Metcalf, from Ilkley, face allegations related to the changing of statements following the tragedy at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died following the crush on the terraces on April 15 1989.

The hearing at Preston is scheduled to last for two days to deal with legal preparation, which cannot be reported, ahead of the jury trial, with most of the parties appearing via videolink to the courtroom.