A Cheshire court was the setting for the latest development in the long-running Hillsborough tragedy saga today (Wednesday, August 9)
Norman Bettison and four other defendants watched proceedings from behind the glass screen of the dock as an overview of the cases against them was read out before Warrington Magistrates’ Court.
Each of the suspects indicated they would plead not guilty to the allegations they face, paving the way for future trials.
Court Two fell in to silence as District Judge Emma Arbuthnot oversaw the opening of the cases against Norman Bettison, Donald Denton, Alan Foster, Peter Metcalf and Graham Metcalf, the Liverpool ECHO reported .
The suspects, who sat together in the dock throughout the 20 minute hearing, spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth and addresses to the court.
Relatives of the 96 Liverpool fans who passed away as a result of the 1989 tragedy looked on as the prosecutions began, with some having arrived hours before the case was scheduled to begin - then standing outside by the court doors as the suspects entered.
Sarah Whitehouse QC, prosecuting, opened the cases against each of the defendants with the exception of Graham Mackrell.
Bettison, a former South Yorkshire Police chief inspector officer who went on to become Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police, is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office.
Those allegations relate to alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of the tragedy and the culpability of fans.
Former Chief Superintendent Denton and ex-Detective Chief Inspector Foster are charged with perverting the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements.
Metcalf, the solicitor who acted for SYP during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquests, is also charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice in relation to witness statements.
One by one, each of the defendants’ counsel indicated they would plead not guilty.
Christine Agnew, prosecuting, opened the case against former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who is charged with two offences under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
He stood in the dock to indicate that he also planned to plead not guilty.
After asking the defendants to stand once again, District Judge Arbuthnot ended proceedings by confirming the suspects are now due to appear at Preston Crown Court on September 6.