Football: Judge orders retrial of Hillsborough disaster's security chief David Duckenfield

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in a crush during the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in a crush during the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - A British court on Tuesday ordered the retrial of the police officer overseeing security during the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died in a crush.

Match commander David Duckenfield escaped penalty when a jury failed to reach a verdict in April following a 10-week trial.

The 74-year-old's lawyers had opposed an application for a retrial on gross negligence manslaughter charges.

But Justice Peter Openshaw ordered the retrial to begin on Oct 7 at Preston Crown Court near Liverpool.

"I authorise a retrial of defendant David Duckenfield," he said.

Duckenfield stands accused of being responsible for 95 of the 96 deaths. The last victim died more than a year after the disaster and cannot be legally linked to the case.

The crush of people at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield remains one of the worst sporting disasters in British history.

 

It led to years of anger and frustration expressed by relatives and team fans alike at an alleged police cover-up and slow prosecution of the case that followed.

Victims' families fought a long campaign for events surrounding the disaster to be re-investigated and the Crown Prosecution Service decided to press charges in June 2017.

The only person convicted in the case was ordered in May to pay a fine of £6,500 (S$11,200).

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service alleged during the April hearing that Duckenfield had the "ultimate responsibility" for allowing the crush to occur.

But the defence argued the case was "breathtakingly unfair" and said the defendant had "tried to do the right thing".