Ferndown

England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Vicars who know how to rock and roll

Five vicars play in the band Dogs Without Collars

'We've not been allowed to grieve,' says victim's sister

The sister of one of the Hillsborough victims said David Duckenfield's trial had come "decades too late".

Brian Matthews
Hillsborough Inquests

"If we would have had a criminal trial 30 years ago it would have been put to bed by now," said Debbie Matthews, whose brother Brian was one of the 96 who died.

"We've not been allowed to grieve."

Legal system 'not a level playing field', says North West mayors

In a joint statement, Merseyside Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the British legal system was "not a level playing field for ordinary people".

Former culture secretary Andy Burnham was instrumental in setting up the panel that produced the report into the Hillsborough disaster.

View more on twitter
Margaret Aspinall reacts to Duckenfield trial verdict
Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died at Hillsborough, is "really angry" at the not guilty verdict.

David Duckenfield 'threatened during trial'

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield and his wife were threatened with physical violence during his trial, it can now be reported.

David Duckenfield
Gett

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw said Mr Duckenfield had been the subject of "persistent personal abuse" in the media and social media which was "ill-informed, insulting and even vicious".

He said: "Over and above that he, and his wife, have been threatened with personal violence.

"After the [original April] trial, he received an anonymous threat sent by mail to his home address (with a local postmark) causing further real concern that someone who wished him ill knew where he lived."

Sir Peter ordered the retrial of to go ahead "despite the hardship that might result to the defendant".

Police officers were seen outside the court as Mr Duckenfield arrived and left court every day.

Lancashire Police did not confirm the number of officers deployed but said the force was responsible for a "security and reassurance operation" around the court.

Listen to David Duckenfield's 2015 Hillsborough apology

David Duckenfield previously admitted his failure to close a tunnel caused the 96 deaths at Hillsborough.

The match commander made his admission while being cross-examined at the new inquests in March 2015, when he also apologised to the victims' families.

At his retrial at Preston Crown Court, Mr Duckenfield was found not guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans in the 1989 disaster.

The Hillsborough match commander apologised to the families

Verdict was a 'dagger to the heart', says brother of victim

Stephen Kelly, whose brother Michael died in the Hillsborough disaster, said he was "absolutely shattered" by the verdict.

Michael Kelly
Hillsborough Inquests
Michael Kelly died in the disaster

It's been a 30-year wait to hear that. It was like a dagger to the heart, it was just unbelievable.

I thought our team presented a good enough case to prompt a guilty verdict and its hard to sit here now and think now that there is no-one being held accountable for 96 people being unlawfully killed sadly for whatever reason.

We have all aged through this process, it is so, so difficult.

Stephen Kelly
PA
Stephen Kelly said the process had been difficult

'There's something wrong with the system' - Jenni Hicks

Jenni Hicks, the mother of of two sisters who died in the Hillsborough disaster, said she was "very disappointed" with the verdict.

Sarah and Victoria Hicks
BBC

She said:

What the country needs to remember is that this shouldn't take away the unlawfully killed verdict that we had in the 2016 inquests, which is basically gross negligence manslaughter to a criminal standard and yet when you take it to a criminal court it doesn't stand up, so it is very confusing.

And we've now got to live with knowing that all of our loved ones were unlawfully killed - who is accountable for the deaths then?

There's got to be something wrong with the system, it is totally wrong.

The Hillsborough match commander apologised to the families
David Duckenfield previously admitted his failure to close a tunnel caused the deaths at Hillsborough.

'The jury had a difficult and challenging task'

Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, the officer in overall command of the Operation Resolve criminal inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster, said he respected the jury's decision.

'Please God give them some peace' - Margaret Aspinall

Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the disaster, talks of her anger and the suffering of the families involved.

Margaret Aspinall reacts to Duckenfield trial verdict

David Duckenfield 'hid behind cowardly lie'

Liverpool Echo

The Liverpool Echo reporter who has covered David Duckenfield's retrial has written a strong condemnation of the retired chief superintendent even though he has been acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter.

The Hillsborough match commander was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter. But his acquittal does not undo his shameful lie. David Duckenfield is not a criminal,a jury has decided. And it is not his fault those who deserved to face the same scrutiny he did will never be held accountable for the deaths of the 96. But while his acquittal means he did not fail to a criminal standard, it does not mean he did not fail at all. Nor does it mask the fact he lied.

Joe Thomas,Liverpool Echo

Reaction from David Duckenfield

David Duckenfield
PA Media

David Duckenfield's lawyer Ian Lewis, of JMW Solicitors, has given this statement on behalf of his client.

David is of course relieved that the jury has found him not guilty, however his thoughts and sympathies remain with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

"He understands the public interest in this case, but would ask that his privacy and that of his family is respected, and will not be commenting further.

Ian LewisSolicitor

'Who is accountable for 96 deaths?'

The chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group has demanded to know who is accountable for the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.

Margaret Aspinall
Getty Images

Speaking at a press conference at the Cunard building in Liverpool, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the 1989 tragedy, said: "I'm so angry.

"I blame a system that's so morally wrong within this country, that's a disgrace to this nation.

"Who is responsible for putting 96 people in their graves?"

She added: "The families have gone through hell... please God give them some peace."

Jurors asked: Was it gross negligence?

The final question the judge asked jurors to consider before deciding David Duckenfield's fate was: "Are you sure that David Duckenfield's breach - or breaches - of duty amounted to gross negligence?"

For negligence to be found to be 'gross', it must be, having regard to the foreseeable risk of death, so truly and exceptionally bad, so blameworthy, so reprehensible and so deserving of punishment, that it deserves to be marked by conviction of the serious crime of manslaughter.

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw

Did a breach or breaches of duty of care at least substantially contribute to the deaths?

The judge asked jurors to ask themselves whether they were "sure David Duckenfield's breach - or breaches - of duty of care caused, or at least substantially contributed, to the deaths?"

The jury was told the prosecution did not have to prove Mr Duckenfield's breach was the only cause of the deaths, or the main cause, but that it was at least one of the substantial contributory causes.

Was it forseeable that any breach or breaches of duty would cause a serious and obvious risk of fatal crushing?

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told jurors that in order to convict David Duckenfield of gross negligence manslaughter they had to consider five key questions, including: "Are you sure it was reasonably foreseeable that the defendant's breach - or breaches - of duty would cause a serious and obvious risk of death to spectators by crushing?

He told jurors they must be sure what Mr Duckenfield did or did not do caused a reasonably foreseeable, serious and obvious risk of death to the spectators.

What was 'reasonably foreseeable' is a matter of fact and degree for you, the jury, to decide in the light of all the relevant circumstances as you find them to be."

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw

Was the jury convinced that Mr Duckenfield was in breach of his duty of care?

Jurors were ordered by the judge whether they were sure David Duckenfield was in breach of his duty of care.

The prosecution alleged Mr Duckenfield had breached his duty of care by failing to:

  1. identify potential confining points and hazards to the safe entry of spectators
  2. monitor and assess the number and situation of spectators yet to enter the stadium from Leppings Lane
  3. take action, in good time, to relieve crowding pressures on fans seeking entry to the stadium from Leppings Lane
  4. monitor and assess the number and situation of supporters in pens three and four of the Leppings Lane terrace prevent crushing to fans in pens three and four by the flow of spectators through the central tunnel.

Jurors were told in order to find Mr Duckenfield guilty they would all need to be satisfied he was in breach of his duty in at least one of the ways alleged and to agree on which of the breaches were proved.

What did the jury have to decide?

In summing up the seven-week trial, Judge Sir Peter Openshaw ordered the jury to consider five questions. Only if they answered "Yes" to each question could they proceed to the next.

And they could only find Mr Duckenfield guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in the event of them answering Yes to each and every question.

Sir Peter Openshaw
PA Media
Sir Peter Openshaw

Jurors were asked whether they "could be sure the defendant David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to the spectators attending the match?"

The court heard Benjamin Myers QC, defending Mr Duckenfield, accepted the now 75-year-old retired chief superintendent had owed a duty of care in law to the spectators attending the match to take reasonable care for their safety.

'We are acutely aware of how disappointing the verdict is for the families'

Sue Hemming, the Crown Prosecution Service's Director of Legal Services, said: “The disaster at Hillsborough 30 years ago has caused unimaginable suffering to the families of those who sadly lost their lives and to everybody affected by the tragic events of that day.

"They were let down with the most catastrophic consequences imaginable. I know how important these proceedings have been to everyone, even though they came far too late.

“The events of 15 April 1989 have been considered on a number of occasions, including at the second inquest concluding in 2016.

"It is important to remember that criminal proceedings have a very different purpose to an inquest.

"The not guilty verdict today does not affect or alter the inquest jury’s findings of unlawful killing or their conclusion that Liverpool fans were in no way responsible for the 96 deaths that resulted.

“It was vitally important that the facts and accounts of what happened leading up to that terrible day were heard in a criminal court and the outcome determined by a jury.

"This was a complex and harrowing case and presenting evidence about events of 30 years ago has not been straightforward.

“We are acutely aware of how disappointing the verdict is for families who have waited anxiously for today, however we respect the decision of the jury.

"We have remained in regular contact with families throughout the trial and, as we have done at all key stages of these investigations, we will meet with them again to answer any questions they may have.

“On behalf of the team, I would like to commend the ongoing bravery and dignity that the families have shown throughout these two trials and we extend our thanks and admiration to those who courageously gave heartfelt accounts of some of the darkest hours of their lives.”

'I don't blame Duckenfield' - former police sergeant

Former sergeant William Crawford, who was on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, said: "I don't blame David Duckenfield... I blame the person who put him in that position."

He said the match commander's role was a "poisoned chalice" and he "didn't have the experience" to be in charge of the ill-fated FA Cup semi-final match, which resulted in the death of 96 Liverpool fans.

David Duckenfield, pictured shortly after the Hillsborough disaster
PA
David Duckenfield, pictured shortly after the Hillsborough disaster

At the scene: Lauren Hirst, BBC News

Lauren Hirst

BBC News

As news spread that a verdict was imminent, many bereaved families, friends and survivors gathered in the Cunard Building on Liverpool’s waterfront to watch a live feed from Preston Crown Court.

In the final moment before the jury’s verdict was announced, tension filled the room - silence as their eyes were transfixed on the television screens in front of them.

Since the first day of the seven-week trial, many have gathered on the sixth floor here to watch the proceedings.

Gasps filled the air followed by the cries of grief-stricken loved ones as the jury returned its not-guilty verdict.

Shell-shocked, inconsolable, some shouted in disgust while others turned to each other and embraced in silence, utterly heartbroken by today’s verdict.

'Huge disappointment' - Joe Anderson

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the outcome was a "huge disappointment."

Joe Anderson
PA Media

“Today’s outcome is a huge disappointment for the families, the survivors and for all of those still trying to come to terms with the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989.

“In recent years they had to relive the events of that day by sitting through the longest inquest in British legal history, followed by two trials. The toll that it has taken on their health and wellbeing, in addition to losing their loved ones, is unimaginable and the whole city shares their pain.

Brother 'bitterly disappointed' at David Duckenfield verdict

The older brother of Steven Robinson, who died at the age of 17 in the Hillsborough disaster, says he is “bitterly disappointed” by the not-guilty verdict, but thanked the jury “for what must have been a long and difficult trial for them to sit through”.

Steven Joseph Robinson
Family photo

Speaking on behalf of his family, Paul Robinson, 50, from Crosby, Liverpool, said:

As a family we would like to thank all those who have supported us over the years in our quest for justice and accountability.

We firmly believe that we have done everything in our power to do right by our Steven and we walk away from this case with our dignity and our heads held high.

Flooding causes problems in Dorset

A woman had to be rescued by firefighters when her car became stuck in floodwater in Dorset.

The 60-year-old became stuck when her vehicle was stranded in a ford in Aller Lane, Ansty, shortly before 14:00 GMT.

Trains have been suspended on Great Western Railway between Weymouth and Yeovil due to flooding on the railway.

The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings for the River Wriggle and Chetnole and the Upper Frome near Maiden Newton.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service also warned that the A35 - the main route across the county - was under 3ft of water west of Winterbourne Abbas.

View more on twitter