Ex-police boss in bid to block deaths action

David Duckenfield, match commander at Hillsborough
David Duckenfield, match commander at Hillsborough
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Six men are trying to block charges over the deaths of 95 football supporters who died in the Hillsborough disaster - which includes two fans from the borough.

Vincent Fitzsimmons, from Ashton, and Carl Brown, from Leigh, were among the Liverpool FC supporters who lost their lives before the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Vincent Fitzsimmons, from Ashton

Vincent Fitzsimmons, from Ashton

Lawyers representing David Duckenfield, the police match commander, and five others are making applications before Judge Sir Peter Openshaw at Preston Crown Court to halt related prosecutions.

An application is also being made by the Crown Prosecution Service to overturn a stay over the prosecution of Duckenfield, which was previously imposed in 2000 following a private action brought by Hillsborough families.

Duckenfield, 73, faces 95 charges of gross negligence manslaughter following the crush in the terrace pens of the Sheffield Wednesday stadium’s Leppings Lane end at the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

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.

Duckenfield is set go on trial in September at Preston, alongside Graham Mackrell, 68, the former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary, who is charged with two offences involving the stadium safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Three other defendants - retired police officers Donald Denton, 80, and Alan Foster, 71, and retired solicitor Peter Metcalf, 68, who acted for South Yorkshire Police following the 1989 disaster - are scheduled to go on trial next January.

They are each charged with two offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice, which relate to amendments said to have been made to police officers’ statements following the tragedy.

Ex-chief constable of Merseyside Police and later West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, 62, faces trial in May 2019.

He was a chief inspector at South Yorkshire Police in 1989 and is charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office over alleged lies in accounts he gave afterwards of his involvement in the disaster.

The five defendants charged have previously indicated, through their lawyers, that they would plead not guilty to all the counts against them.