Police chief accused of 'significant' role in Hillsborough disaster

David Duckenfield was accused of failing to adequately plan for the FA Cup match at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 where 96 people died

Former Chief Superintendent of South Yorkshire Police David Duckenfield arrives at Preston Crown Court, to attend his trial regarding the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in Preston, Britain, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Super
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A chief superintendent's “extraordinarily bad failures" helped cause the deaths of 96 football fans watching a match in Hillsborough, UK, a court heard on Tuesday.

David Duckenfield, 74, who was in charge of security on the day in 1989, is currently standing trial on a manslaughter by gross negligence charge but denies the accusations. He is in the dock at Preston Crown Court alongside the former club secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Graham Mackrell, who faces two health and safety charges.

The worst sporting disaster in UK sporting history, 96 people were killed and anther 766 injured amid a human crash during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

"Each was an individual who formed part of what was the anticipated 50,000 crowd of spectators, whose attendance, entry and accommodation at the Hillsborough Stadium should have been properly planned for and safely facilitated,” said prosecutor Richard Mathews QC.

"Each died as a result of the extraordinarily bad failures by David Duckenfield in the care he took to discharge his personal responsibility on that fateful day."

The prosecutor said he "made a significant contribution to causing that fatal crushing."


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Mr Mackrell is accused of failing to ensure the safety of spectators as the-then club secretary of Sheffield Wednesday, whose home ground was Hillsborough.

"It is the prosecution’s case that Mr Mackrell effectively shrugged off all responsibility for these important aspects of the role he had taken on as safety officer,” Mr Mathews told the court.

“That abdication of responsibility continued from the time that his club was given the semi- final to host, on the 20th March 1989, right up to and including the day of the match and the unfolding events of the tragedy."

An inquest in 2016 concluded the 96 were killed unlawfully because of police errors. The trial is expected to go on for roughly four months.