On June 28th 2017, David Duckenfield and Graham Mackrell were formally charged following a formal inquest into the infamous Hillsborough disaster of 1989.
This week the trial opens, where Duckenfield will be tried for Manslaughter by Gross Negligence of 95 men, women and children. Mackrell, the Safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday at the time, will be tried under breaching section 3 of the health and safety at work act, namely ensuring as far as reasonably practicable that persons other than themselves or employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.
The trial is closely monitored by those that have campaigned for justice since the fans were blamed for the tragedy.
The “exceptionally bad failings” of police match commander David Duckenfield were “a substantial cause” of the Hillsborough tragedy, the court was told.
The focus on Mackrell is provided by the Safety certificate and its alleged breaches.
At condition 6 (1), the certificate required the club to agree, prior to an event with the Chief Constable (in this case, Duckenfield), the “methods of admission to be employed in connection with a Specified Activity (including a football match) and … the methods to be used for the segregation of home and visiting supporters.” This was a particular condition that the club had to agree on in regard to the methods of entry into the stadium- in this case, the amount of turnstiles to be used for admission in to the west stand and north west terraces. Mackrell is accused of ‘turning a blind eye or neglect of part of his duties as a safety officer.’
Richard Matthews, QC, who is prosecuting, stated “The Safety Certificate was never updated or amended from the date it was granted in 1979 until the day of the disaster” and there was “a recognition by all concerned that the safety certificate was very out of date… Few of those involved with the Safety Certificate appear to have performed their function diligently in this regard.”
The trial is expected to last several months.
How have the events unfolded so far?