Hillsborough: Former police chiefs face charges

Match commander David Duckenfield charged with manslaughter, while Sir Norman Bettison faces four counts of misconduct

hillsborough
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Hillsborough: Is it time for the FA to face charges?

28 April 2016

The fallout from the Hillsborough inquests continues, with David Crompton, the chief constable of South Yorkshire police, suspended from his job and claims that the Football Association and Sheffield Wednesday could face legal action over the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at the FA Cup final in 1989.

Crompton, who was due to retire later this year, has been suspended "following a wave of public anger about the way his force conducted itself during the inquest", reports The Guardian.

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South Yorkshire police "conducted a defence that families felt smeared Liverpool fans", says the paper. The jury, however, "pinned the disaster on police blunders, which were then followed by a cover-up lasting over two decades".

There was more outrage after a former officer claimed the force "did a good job" and that its staff had been subjected to "bile and hatred". The message, seen by the BBC, was posted on a website for retired officers.

"These comments may have been intended to privately lift morale amongst retired officers after another bruising week for all connected with South Yorkshire Police," says Dan Johnson of the BBC. "But some see the remarks as further evidence that police officers still don't accept the failures over Hillsborough."

Meanwhile, the FA could face corporate criminal charges over claims they ignored warnings before the disaster despite Sheffield Wednesday's "chequered" safety record, reports the Daily Telegraph.

"A £40m police inquiry is being stepped up after a jury this week delivered damning findings that the condition of the stadium contributed to the 96 deaths," says the paper. "John Stoddart, the lead officer on Operation Resolve, confirmed that the FA and Sheffield Wednesday were part of his investigation as he prepares to send files to the Crown Prosecution Service."

And as the football community digests the results of the inquest, it is clear the FA "has still not been called properly to account over the worst tragedy to befall the sport it is meant to safeguard", says Henry Winter in The Times.

Its 165-word response to the verdict, which claimed ongoing legal cases limited what it could say, was "procrastinating, disrespectful, heartless", he argues.

"The FA should show some real contrition... tell its lawyers to go get a coffee while it finally, properly apologises to the Liverpool families who lost their loved ones in a stadium the FA somehow decided was safe."

Hillsborough: Police should be 'shaking in their boots'

27 April

After the jury at the Hillsborough inquest found that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in a crush at the ground in 1989 were unlawfully killed, attention has turned to the accountability of the police.

Victims' families and friends, together with campaigners, last night celebrated the culmination of a 27-year quest for justice.

There was also great satisfaction on Merseyside that the inquest had exonerated fans of blame.

"The supporters of Liverpool Football Club have been totally vindicated," said Kenny Dalglish, who was manager of the club at the time and remains on the board.

He also warned that those responsible would be "shaking in their boots" at the prospect of "recompense", reports The Times.

Calls for action were echoed by the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, notes The Guardian. "Prosecutions would overwhelmingly be in the public interest," the peer told Radio 4's Today programme.

However, he also pointed out that a higher standard of proof is needed in criminal cases as opposed to inquests and that it could take up to a year for prosecutions to be arranged.

"Two ongoing criminal investigations into the disaster and its aftermath could finish by the end of 2016," notes the BBC.

Meanwhile, The Sun and its sister paper, The Times, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, have been heavily criticised for leaving the verdicts off their front pages.

Days after the tragedy 27 years ago, the Sun carried a front page headlined "The Truth", which blamed Liverpool fans for causing the crush and accused them of attacking police and stealing from victims.

The paper and its then editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, have since apologised for the story and the tabloid did so again today in a leader.

"The supporters were not to blame," it says. "But the police smeared them with a pack of lies which in 1989 The Sun and others in the media swallowed whole."

There was widespread anger on social media over the editorial decision.

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