Six people, including match commander David Duckenfield and former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, have been charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989.

Ninety-six football fans died as a result of overcrowding in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The charges relate to decisions taken on the day of the match, as well as an alleged cover-up in the aftermath.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced on Wednesday that Duckenfield has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence and Bettison is accused of four counts of misconduct in public office.

Former South Yorkshire Police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, as well as force solicitor Peter Metcalf, are charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of justice. Former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell is charged with three offences relating to health and safety at sports grounds.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS’s special crime and counter-terrorism division, said a further file from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on the conduct of West Midlands Police, which was assigned to investigate the disaster and South Yorkshire Police’s actions, still needs “additional investigative work”.

All the defendants, except Duckenfield, will appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on August 8.

Faults in stadium design

Operation Resolve, which investigated the causes of the disaster, and the (IPCC) had passed files of evidence relating to 23 suspects, including individuals and organisations, to the CPS earlier this year.

Last year, new inquests found the 96 were unlawfully killed in the disaster. The jury also identified mistakes in the police planning and response, the actions of officers, safety standards and management at the ground and the response by the ambulance service. It also found there were dangerous features in the stadium design.

The original inquest in 1991 ruled that the deaths were accidental, but those verdicts were quashed following an independent report that concluded a major cover-up had taken place to shift the blame for the disaster onto the victims.

The 1990 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster Inquiry report, known as the Taylor Report, led to a ban on standing at stadia in the top two tiers of English football. The report found that the Hillsborough Disaster was not caused by standing, but was primarily due to overcrowding, stadium layout, and poor policing.

Image: Linksfuss