Former West Yorkshire and Merseyside chief constable Sir Norman Bettison (right) walks past Jenny Hicks (left) and other friends and family of victims as he arrives at Warrington Magistrates' Court. Danny Lawson/Press Association
the 96

Five men - including three ex-police officers - appear in court over Hillsborough disaster

In all, 96 people died after a crush in the overcrowded Hillsborough stadium during a Liverpool football match.

Updated 6.55pm

FORMER WEST YORKSHIRE chief constable Sir Norman Bettison is one of five men who appeared in court today charged over the Hillsborough disaster.

In all, 96 people died at the Sheffield stadium after fans were ushered into an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure during a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup in 1989.

The other men on trial are former police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, South Yorkshire Police solicitor Peter Metcalf, and former Sheffield Wednesday safety officer Graham Mackrell. All five men appeared at Warrington Magistrates’ Court today.

They are charged with various offences ranging from misconduct in a public office and intent to pervert the course of justice to failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of other persons.

Bettison, in particular, is alleged to have told lies about the culpability of fans in the disaster and his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough.

It is also alleged that Denton oversaw the process of amending witness statements.

Walking past relatives

The defendants walked past family members of the 96 victims of the disaster who had gathered at the entrance of the court.

No formal pleas were given for four of the men but former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell pleaded not guilty to health and safety charges, reports the BBC.

They were all bailed until next month.

Hillsborough disaster court case Peter Metcalf (left), solicitor for South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough disaster leaves Warrington Magistrates' Court. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

The Liverpool Echo newspaper reports that the men sat together in the dock throughout the 20 minute hearing, and spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth and addresses to the court.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the match commander on the day of the disaster, has been charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 people. He is due to face court at a later date.

The families of the Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough have fought a decades-long battle for justice that led to a landmark court ruling last year that the 96 people were unlawfully killed.

Police had originally blamed the fans and a front page splash in The Sun newspaper just a few days after the disaster was headlined ‘The Truth’, saying drunk Liverpool fans were to blame.

The victims of the Hillsborough disaster were aged between 10 and 67 and included 37 teenagers and 26 parents.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

Read: The victims of Hillsborough: Who were “The 96″?

Read: Hillsborough disaster: The almost three-decade journey to justice