Families and campaigners are gathering in Warrington today to hear charging decisions over the Hillsborough disaster.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will confirm whether anyone will be charged over the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989.
The CPS will inform families with a briefing at Parr Hall at 11am, before releasing charging decisions to the public.
CPS lawyers have spent six months considering evidence against 23 suspects identified by both Operation Resolve, in to planning, preparation and the events of the day, and an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which considered actions afterwards including accusations of a possible cover-up.The identities of the 23 suspects considered by the CPS have not been publicly confirmed.
Our colleagues at the Liverpool ECHO are providing updates throughout the morning on what is announced - and what happens next.
Thank you - and goodbye
So now I’m signing off for today. Thank you ever so much for following our coverage, I hope it has been OK.
After another landmark day I will leave you with links to two key pieces - both of which are worth reading.
- The first is this comment from my colleague Paddy Shennan, who offers his opinion of today’s events
- And the second is this piece offering some legal advice following the charging decisions. With legal proceedings underway, it is very important to take care when commenting on public forums, such as social media
Charging Day: Recap continued
Continuing my recap, here are a few more pieces that may be of interest:
- Norman Bettison will vigorously defend himself against the allegations of misconduct in a public office
Charging decision day: Recap
Right, after another landmark day in the now 28 year long campaign, I’m going to start to draw an end to this blog.
It’s been a very busy day, and one which has ensured we will have more intense days in the future as court hearings take place - the first on August 9.
Just to sum up what has happened today:
- Six people - including David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison - have been charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath
- The families responded with mixed reactions - but welcomed the fact that charges have been brought, and said today showed how no-one was above the law
Operation Resolve Cost
Here’s our full story on Norman Bettison’s reaction to news he has been charged in relation to the Hillsborough investigations.
He faces four counts of misconduct in a public office.
CPS - the full announcement, including legal charges
It’s not very often we direct you ‘off-site’ on here, but sometimes it can be important to do so.
Here is the full Crown Prosecution Service announcement from today, including the complete details of the charges against the six suspects.
If you would like to see them, click here.
Video: Margaret Aspinall responds to charging decisions
If you missed it earlier, here is Margaret Aspinall’s response to today’s announcement
More from Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham...
“It has been our privilege to have played a small part in supporting the families and survivors on this journey and belatedly trying to put right the many failings of the past. All the credit and all our admiration goes to those who refused to be silent, refused to go away and who never stopped fighting for their loved ones when those in power simply did not want to listen.
“This moment belongs to the families, the survivors and the campaigners who supported them. We think too of those who fought for this day but did not live to see it. We pay tribute to them all. As well as accountability, they deserve a new law to be passed in their name that tips the scales of justice in favour of bereaved families and stops others suffering in future like they have. Our thoughts are with them all today.”
"Justice will now at long last take its course"
I’ll have more on Bettison shortly, but now to another statement that has just been released.
Now we have a joint comment issued by Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, the Metro Mayors for Merseyside and Greater Manchester respectively.
They say: “To have to wait 28 years to see charges brought in respect of the 96 unlawful deaths is neither fair nor just. But the fact that this day has happened is all down to the extraordinary determination and dignity of the Hillsborough families in their pursuit of truth and justice.
“Today is another momentous milestone on their journey. Without seeking to prejudge what will now happen, it is surely right that there will now be accountability for what happened on the day and for the cover up that followed. It is all the families have ever wanted and it is what we have all campaigned for. Justice will now at long last take its course.”
Bettison will "vigorously defend my innocence"
We have just heard from representatives of Norman Bettison, one of the six charged today.
In a statement, Bettison said he was “disappointed to be charged”.
He said: “The charge is not in relation to my actions around the time of the disaster but in relation to comments I made years afterwards.
“I will vigorously defend my innocence as I have been doing for nearly five years.
“I will not be making any further statement so as not to prejudice any future proceedings.”
Why Duckenfield will not appear in court with the other five suspects
In relation to Duckenfield, he is the only one of the six accused who will not appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on August 9.
This is because he was the subject of a private prosecution on two counts of gross negligence manslaughter in 1999.
Those proceedings ended with a ‘stay’ placed on the hearing by a senior judge - who is now retired.
A stay is a legal procedure which effectively halts proceedings indefinitely.
For the CPS to prosecute Duckenfield now, they need to apply for a High Court judge to lift that ‘stay’ - hence why his first appearance will be later than the others.
Statement on behalf of two of of the accused
Following today’s announcement, Ian Lewis, the partner at JMW Solicitors who is representing the Hillsborough match day commander David Duckenfield and former chief superintendent Donald Denton, said: “In light of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to commence criminal proceedings against David Duckenfield and Donald Denton, it would be inappropriate for me as their solicitor or for my clients themselves to make any comment.”
Ex-LFC star Didi Hamann on today's announcement
More reaction - this time from Phil Scraton
Criminologist Phil Scraton was one of the key figures on the landmark Hillsborough Independent Panel report, published in 2012. It was that report that paved the way for the quashing of the original inquest verdicts of accidental death, as well as the launch of the two criminal probes that led to today’s announcement.
This is what he has to say
Legal guidance - be careful what you Tweet
Hello everyone, Joe Thomas here returning to the blog. We’ve still got a lot of reaction to today’s charging decisions to come, particularly from the families.
At this stage I think it is important to repeat legal warnings over commenting on the decisions - including on social media. We now enter a very sensitive time legally, so this piece of guidance is well worth a read
Trevor Hicks hopes legal process won't take long
Trevor Hicks speaking here - he lost daughters Sarah Louise, 19, and Victoria Jane, 15 in the 1989 disaster.
This is a really emotional and powerful interview from Louise Brookes, who lost her brother in 1989.
It is mixed feelings for Louise whose parents sadly died before today’s important announcement.
"I swore on my father's graveside I would never I've up fighting for truth"
More family reaction from Tom Belger.
Christine Burke said she never gave up fighting for justice for her father.
Powerful statement from union boss
Tim Roache, General Secretary of the GMB union was at Hillsborough.
This is his powerful reaction following today’s announcement.
“I was at Hillsborough that day.
“I saw kids being carried around on makeshift stretchers, made out of advertising hoarding.
“I saw people having their chests pumped by fellow fans desperately trying to breath some life back into them.
“I will never forget that day. I drove home completely numb, in the days before mobile phones it hadn’t occured to me my mum would be frantic.
“Walking up to my front door the I could hear the phone ringing and ringing.
“When I picked up my mum burst into tears, but I’ve never shaken the sadness of knowing for so many other families, their kids didn’t pick up.
“No one should have to wait 28 years for justice. Hillsborough families have done their loved ones proud.
“They’ve never forgotten. They’ve never given up.
“People must now be held accountable for what happened not just on that day, but in the days, weeks, months and years after.”
Bishop of Liverpool - "Today is another milestone"
More reaction coming in, this time from the Bishop of Liverpool.
The Rt Revd. Paul Bayes said: “For many years Hillsborough has been about the struggle for truth and justice, led by a group of determined people. Through many obstructions and frustrations they have held firm in their search for truth and justice, supported by the Independent Panel and then by the more recent Inquest verdicts. Today we hear that that case for justice will be pursued in the law courts. The journey continues.
“As a Christian I stand alongside those who struggle for justice in the world. We seek a justice that aims to be restorative and healing, and that clears the way for a fairer and more confident future for all people.
“This is a mark of the society I believe God wants for all creation. Today is another milestone in the long and steady journey of the Hillsborough families and survivors. And I pray once again, remembering the 96 with love and sorrow, and asking God’s blessing on the families and all who carry the scars of that tragedy with them today, and yet walk on with hope for a just and truthful future.”
Full statement from the families
For anyone who doesn’t have facebook or missed the full statement on behalf of the families - here it is
Margaret Aspinall speaks
Tom Belger has posted this video of the reaction of Margaret Aspinall - who lost her 18-year-old son James in the disaster.
She said six charges are a great achievement, definitely beginning of the end. But is disappointed there are not more charges.
LIVE- families react
Our reporter Tom Belger is now live where the Hillsborough families are speaking.
Watch it live on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/theliverpoolecho/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
Update from families
Tom is reporting that the families have come out for a short break - but not ready to speak quite yet
This is a really important read from Joe Thomas on what people must avoid doing in order to not jeopardise any prosecutions.
Reaction from Police Superintendents’ Association
Responding to the charging decisions announced today by the Crown Prosecution Service, Chief Superintendent Tim Jackson, National Secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said:
“This has been a long and extremely difficult process for everyone involved and our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of those who died in this tragedy.
“Both this Association, and those to whom we have provided support, have co-operated fully with the legal process.
“As charges have been brought we will make no further comment.”
More reaction to charges announcement
We are getting lots of reaction to today’s announcement.
This is a statement from law firm Broudie Jackson Canter, who represented 22 of the Hillsborough families.
“The families have pursued and achieved the truth and a measure of Justice in the Inquests but they have always known that accountability is the most difficult objective.
“They remain keen to see the criminal process properly pursued for those who have been charged and given that the rights of the defendants should be respected they do not intend to indulge in speculation about the outcome of criminal trials.
“They do however hope that the memories of their loved ones and the integrity of the fans who attended Hillsborough will be respected during the process.”
Response from David Duckenfield legal team
Our chief reporter Luke Traynor has been in touch with David Duckenfield’s legal team.
West Lancs MP pays tribute to families and campaigners
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper says today’s ruling will offer the families involved in the Hillsborough tragedy some solace as it brings justice for the 96 one step closer.
In a statement she said: “Today’s verdict to press criminal charges against six people involved in the tragedy at Hillsborough reflects the families determination never to give up on the long road to justice which they have had to endure for the nearly three decades.
“The decision to charge six involved will allow justice to draw ever nearer for the 96, as people will be held to account in court for their actions on that fateful day.”