South Yorkshire Police chief describes Hillsborough disaster as 'appalling tragedy'

The Hillsborough disaster
The Hillsborough disaster

South Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable has described the Hillsborough disaster as an 'appalling tragedy'.

Chf Con Stephen Watson issued a statement after the Crown Prosecution Service announced that six individuals - including four former police officers and a force lawyer - are to be prosecuted over the deaths of 96 fans at Hillsborough football stadium in 1989.

Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, match commander on the day of the disaster, has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

Sir Norman Bettison, a former chief inspector and superintendent with South Yorkshire Police and subsequent Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police, is charged with four counts of misconduct in public office relating to alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster and the culpability of Liverpool fans.

Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton, and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster are charged with perverting the course of justice over their alleged involvement in the amendment process of statements in the aftermath of the disaster.

Peter Metcalf, the solicitor acting for South Yorkshire Police in 1989, is charged with perverting the course of justice over alleged changes to police officers' statements.

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Secretary at the time, Graham Mackrell, is charged with contravention of terms of the Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975.

Chf Con Watson said: “Decisions concerning the bringing of criminal charges are rightly for the CPS.

"Given that criminal proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further for fear of jeopardising this important process in any way. In all of this however, our thoughts are with the Hillsborough families as we reflect on the appalling tragedy that is Hillsborough with the loss of so many innocent lives."

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: "Today’s announcement represents another milestone in the long history of the Hillsborough investigations.

“The start of criminal proceedings against these individuals will hopefully lead to a measure of closure for the family members who have experienced a long and traumatic process intheir quest for justice and those officers who have lived under the shadow of the disaster for 28 years.

“I am reassured that South Yorkshire Police today understand very well that their present and future conduct has to be rooted in a commitment to uphold the values of public serviceand to putting the victim at the centre of their operation.”

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