Two ex-police officers from South Yorkshire police and the force’s one-time solicitor had been charged with perverting the course of justice
Liverpool have issued a statement after the collapse of the Hillsborough trial, claiming that the victims’ families and survivors of the disaster “have been let down yet again”.
A total of 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives as the result of a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium during their FA Cup semi-final clash with Nottingham Forest in 1989.
Former solicitor for South Yorkshire police, Peter Metcalf, then Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster were charged with perverting the course of justice after amending force statements.
What happened at the trial?
Mr Justice William Davis ruled that the two former police officers and one-time solicitor had no case to answer and stopped the trial on Wednesday, with the charges against them having initially been brought up in 2017.
The judge said the statements in question had been put together for Lord Taylor’s public inquiry in 1990.
He added that this was not a statutory inquiry and therefore not considered “a court of law”, meaning it could not be classed as a “course of public justice” open to perversion.
Liverpool have released a statement via their club website in response to the ruling, which reads: “It is with huge disappointment that Liverpool Football Club notes the latest developments in the judicial process relating to the Hillsborough disaster.
“While it would not be our place, legally or otherwise, to comment on those proceedings as they pertain to individuals, it is incumbent on us to forcefully point out that the 96 victims, their families, survivors and all those who suffered as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy have continuously been failed in their pursuit for justice.
“We salute all those who have campaigned for justice. They have been let down yet again.
“We have a situation in which 96 people were unlawfully killed and yet no individual or group has been deemed legally culpable for their deaths.
“As ever, our thoughts are with the families, survivors and campaigners and we would reiterate that, as established by the 2016 inquests, the behaviour of our supporters was not a contributory factor in the disaster, a truth for which the bereaved families had to fight for over a quarter of a century.
“The 96 will never be forgotten.
The bigger picture
The families of those that died at Hillsborough have seen their 32-year campaign for legal proceedings brought to a close following the latest ruling.
The first inquest into the disaster reached a verdict of accidental death in 1991, but that ruling was quashed in 2012 as a judge called for a new inquiry.
Four years later the verdicts of that inquest concluded that the 96 had been unlawfully killed, and that the fans were not to blame, but match commander David Duckenfield, who ordered the opening of Gate C which led to the deadly overcrowding, was exonerated after two trials.