‘All we want is accountability’: victims’ plea as UK charges six people in deadly Hillsborough stadium disaster

It includes the police commander on the day, who has been accused of gross negligence manslaughter

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 7:36pm

British prosecutors have charged six people in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster which saw 96 Liverpool football fans crushed to death.

Four former senior policemen were among six people charged on Wednesday over the 1989 disaster.

“I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences,” said Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Among the former officers charged was the police commander on the day, David Duckenfield, who has been accused of gross negligence manslaughter.

Twenty-five years on, the Hillsborough stadium disaster still reverberates

“We will allege that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge his personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives,” said the CPS.

The former chief of South Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettision, was charged with misconduct in public office for lying about the disaster and its aftermath.

The attorney for the South Yorkshire Police was charged with acting “with intent to pervert the course of public justice” relating to changes in witness statements during an inquiry into the tragedy.

Graham Mackrell, former secretary at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, whose Hillsborough ground hosted the match, faces three charges over safety failings at the stadium.

All we want is accountability, nothing more and nothing less
Margaret Aspinall

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial,” said Sue Hemming, the head prosecutor for special crime and counter terror.

The tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield unfolded when more than 2,000 Liverpool soccer fans flooded into a standing-room section behind a goal, with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for the match against Nottingham Forest. The victims were smashed against metal anti-riot fences or trampled underfoot. Many suffocated in the crush.

At the time, hooliganism was common, and there were immediate attempts to defend the police operation and assign blame to the Liverpool fans. A false narrative circulated that blamed ticketless and rowdy Liverpool fans – a narrative that their families have challenged for decades.

Football fans ‘unlawfully killed’ in Hillsborough stadium disaster

The original inquest into the incident recorded verdicts of accidental death. But the families challenged it and campaigned for a new inquiry. They succeeded in getting the verdicts overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police.

Some 23 suspects, including individuals and organisations, had faced the possibility of charges.

The Hillsborough disaster prompted a sweeping modernization of stadiums across England. Top division stadiums were largely transformed into safer, all-seat venues, with fences around fields torn down.

“All we want is accountability, nothing more and nothing less,” said Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the disaster.