<
>

Hillsborough disaster: Match commander David Duckenfield will face trial, judge rules

Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium, where the disaster occurred. Allsport

A judge has ruled that David Duckenfield, the match commander on the day of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, will face trial for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Liverpool fans.

Sir Peter Openshaw, sitting at Preston Crown Court, said he was lifting a stay on the prosecution of Duckenfield, which was imposed 18 years ago.

"In respect of the defendant David Duckenfield I lift the stay. I confirm that I grant the voluntary bill of indictment to allow prosecution for manslaughter to proceed," he said in a statement. "I decline to order a stay on that charge."

Duckenfield, now aged 73, was commander when the disaster happened at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's stadium as Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semifinal.

Although the Hillsborough death toll is 96 Duckenfield cannot be tried for the death of the final victim, Tony Bland, because his death happened more than a year and a day after suffering the injuries that caused it.

Four others will face trial -- former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, charged with health and safety and safety at sports grounds offences, and ex-solicitor Peter Metcalf and former police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster.

The latter three are charged with perverting the course of justice. All the men had applied to have prosecutions stayed on legal grounds.

The trials of Duckenfield and Mackrell are scheduled to start on Sept. 10.