Hillsborough: Trial for ex-police officers and solicitor collapses

26 May 2021, 15:09

96 people died in the disaster at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989
96 people died in the disaster at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

The trial of two retired police officers and a solicitor accused of perverting the course of justice following the Hillsborough disaster has collapsed after the judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Former chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, were each accused of two counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

It was alleged they were involved in a process of amending officers' statements to minimise the blame on South Yorkshire Police following the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

However, the jury was directed to return not guilty verdicts for all counts.

In a ruling handed down at the Nightingale court at the Lowry theatre in Salford on Wednesday, judge Mr Justice William Davis said the amended statements were intended for a public inquiry into safety at sports grounds led by Lord Justice Taylor, but that was not a course of public justice.

He concluded there was no case fit for consideration by the jury based on any of the six counts on the indictment.

Read more: Cummings: Barnard Castle saga was 'complete disaster' that 'undermined public confidence'

Read more: National Trust chairman steps down amid backlash over 'woke' agenda

In the ruling, he said: "I repeat my observation about the anxiety and distress being felt by the families of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

"These proceedings have been very drawn-out following a lengthy trial process involving the match commander.

"I know the strength of feeling there was after his acquittal. I am aware that these proceedings also have been observed with interest.

"However, whatever the anxiety and distress, I have to determine whether there is evidence to support the particular criminal offence with which these defendants have been charged.

"In concluding that there is not, that is all I do."

Liverpool FC mark the 32nd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster
Liverpool FC mark the 32nd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture: Getty

The collapse of the trial was met with dismay from many.

Speaking in court before the jury came in, Christine Burke, whose father Henry died in the disaster, said: "The judiciary is broken."

She said her father had been buried "with a lie".

She added: "The law needs to change."

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who has been heavily involved in the campaign for justice for Hillsborough victims, also voiced his disappointment in a series of tweets.

He also called for the introduction of what he called a "Hillsborough Law", which would make it a legal obligation for public institutions to tell the truth during investigations and inquiries.

The Crown Prosecution Service defended its decision to prosecute, saying it was "right to bring this case and for a court to hear the evidence of what happened in the aftermath" of the disaster.

Read more: 'My dad should still be alive': Grieving daughter reacts to Cummings evidence

The Hillsborough disaster was a crush of football fans at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on April 15 1989, resulting in the deaths of 96 people and inflicting injuries on hundreds more.

The role the police played in the incident has been under scrutiny for years, and Mr Denton, Mr Metcalf and Mr Foster were charged in 2017 following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into allegations of a cover-up by police following the tragedy.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

More strikes are taking place on Saturday

Weekend travel chaos as another day of strikes leaves just a fifth of train network running

Mr Gove has backed Mr Sunak

Michael Gove backs Rishi Sunak in Tory leadership race - as he says Truss campaign has taken 'holiday from reality'

Boulter bit the PD Xander on the head

Man bites police dog on the head after lashing out at officer during arrest

Sanna Marin said she has taken a drug test

Finnish PM takes drug test as new video of her partying emerges


Isis 'Beatle' from London jailed for life in US for role in hostage taking and beheading plot

Sir Alex was in court on Friday

'I never saw Giggs lose temper' Man Utd's legendary ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson tells trial

Keeping Up Appearances actress Josephine Tewson has died

Keeping Up Appearances star Josephine Tewson dies aged 91

The Environment Agency has issued 'do not swim' orders for 22 beaches in England amid fears sewage discharged from rainwater overflows may have polluted the waters.

'Do not swim' at 22 beaches in England after sewage discharge, Environment Agency warns

Ryan Giggs told his PR executive girlfriend Kate Greville she was "the jam in my donut"

‘Jam in my donut’: Court hears more of Ryan Giggs’ poetry and text exchanges with his ex

A man has appeared at the Old Bailey (right) accused of stabbing a man in a restaurant on London's Poland Street

Chef, 60, ‘stabbed worker to death in Soho Korean restaurant after row about food prep’

Thomas Nutt, 46, killed Dawn Walker hours after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Killer husband who murdered wife on wedding night and hid body in suitcase jailed for life

Brits are scrambling to update their Apple devices after a major security flaw was found

Millions told to update Apple tech 'right now' after major security issue leaves devices vulnerable to hackers


NHS warns surging energy bills could cause 'humanitarian crisis' this winter

There are warnings the cost of a pint could reach as high as £14 in London in years to come

Price of pint in London could reach £14 and takeaway coffee nearly a fiver in coming years, research suggests

Melvin Terry waited for 27 hours in A&E before being sent home

Hospital apologises after grandfather, 76, spent 27 hours waiting for A&E bed before being sent home

The girl was allegedly abducted from Warne Avenue, Droylsden

Man, 23, arrested on suspicion of abduction and sexual assault of girl, 6, in Droylsden