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Hillsborough police chief David Duckenfield: 'I was Freemason'
Was the jury full of his lodge buddies on the previous occasion?
The former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent who was in command of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, where 96 people were killed, will face a retrial on a charge of gross negligence manslaughter, a judge has ruled.
Sir Peter Openshaw, who presided over the 10-week trial of Duckenfield earlier this year in which the jury failed to reach a verdict, handed down his ruling on Tuesday after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) applied for a retrial. The new trial will be at Preston crown court on 7 October.
Handing down his decision, Openshaw said: “I authorise a retrial of the defendant David Duckenfield, and refuse the defendant’s application to stay the trial.”
Relatives of some of the 96 people killed at Hillsborough 30 years ago were in the court’s public seats to hear Openshaw order the retrial.
Benjamin Myers QC, who conducted Duckenfield’s defence at the trial, had opposed the application. The jury that heard evidence in the prosecution at Preston crown court between 14 January and 25 March returned on their eighth day of deliberations on 3 April to say they had been unable to reach a verdict by the required majority of 10-2.
Duckenfield, 74, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in relation to 95 of the 96 people who died at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on 15 April 1989.
Richard Matthews QC, the lead barrister for the CPS, told Openshaw on the same day the jury failed to reach its verdict that the service intended to seek a retrial.
The jury did return a 10-2 majority guilty verdict against the other defendant, Graham Mackrell, the Sheffield Wednesday secretary and safety officer for the Hillsborough ground at the time of the disaster, on a charge of breaching his legal duty to keep people safe at his place of work.
Mackrell negligently allocated too few turnstiles – only seven – for the 10,100 people with tickets to stand and support Liverpool on the Leppings Lane terrace, and only 23 turnstiles altogether for the 24,000 people with tickets allocated to Liverpool supporters.
The 96 victims, aged between 10 and 67, were killed at the match in a crush in the central “pens”, 3 and 4, of the Leppings Lane terrace. No charge was brought against Duckenfield in relation to the 96th person to die, Tony Bland, who was critically injured in the crush and was maintained on life support in hospital until 1993, when support was lawfully withdrawn.
According to the law in 1989, a criminal charge relating to a death could not be brought if the victim died more than a year and a day after the acts that allegedly caused it.