Manslaughter Trial Of Hillsborough Match Commander David Duckenfield Begins

The charges relate to the tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium 1989, in which 95 people died.
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield.
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield.
Press Association

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has appeared in court to stand trial for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Liverpool football fans.

Graham Mackrell, the Sheffield Wednesday club secretary and safety officer at the time of the disaster, will stand trial alongside the 74-year-old former police chief superintendent, on an offence involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Both men deny the offences.

The charges relate to the Hillsborough tragedy at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool at Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough football ground.

Wearing suits and ties and sitting in the benches with their legal team, the two men were asked by Judge Sir Peter Openshaw to stand up so people could see if they recognised them.

Around 100 potential jurors were brought into the courtroom at Preston Crown Court and given a questionnaire to assess their suitability to serve on the trial.

HuffPost UK

Among the 18 questions asked of the potential jurors was:

– Whether they were supporters of Liverpool, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest football clubs;

– Whether they, or any close relatives, had been present at the match or if they knew anyone who was killed at the disaster.

They were also asked if they or any close family members had ever been police officers or employed by the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Independent Police Complaints Commission or any criminal justice agency.

Potential jurors were also asked if they were aware of anything that would deter them from giving an independent verdict, and if they had any physical conditions or mental illnesses or conditions which would adversely affect them from being able to serve on the trial.

The panel was also warned not to look up anything about the disaster on the internet.

Judge Openshaw also asked the potential jurors if they had any pre-booked holiday, but warned them: “Don’t go and book a holiday this afternoon.”

He also told the court that the trial was expected to last three or four months, but that it would be finished by Friday May 10.

The names of more than 50 witnesses, including some who have since deceased, were read out before the court.

Fourteen family members sat in court while other relatives of the 96 Hillsborough victims watched from a court annexe.

Duckenfield previously appeared in court via videolink to enter a not guilty plea to the charge of gross negligence manslaughter.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

Ninety-six men, women and children died in the crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of the Sheffield Wednesday ground at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.


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