Hillsborough trial: Jurors asked to reveal football allegiances

Graham Mackrell and David Duckenfield Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Graham Mackrell (left) and David Duckenfield arrived at Preston Crown Court earlier

Potential jurors at the manslaughter trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield have been asked to reveal their football allegiances.

Mr Duckenfield, 74, appeared at Preston Crown Court at the start of his trial. He denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.

Jury candidates were asked whether they supported Liverpool, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest.

More than 20 family members of those who died were in the public gallery.

Other relatives of the 96 victims watched proceedings via a videolink from Liverpool.

Mr Duckenfield, of Ferndown in Dorset, is accused in relation to the deaths of 95 people who were in the crowd at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground for the FA Cup semi-final. between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

The retired chief superintendent was South Yorkshire Police's match commander for the game. Men, women and children died in the crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough.

Image caption The 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Mr Duckenfield sat in the well of the court as 100 potential jurors were asked to answer a questionnaire made up of 18 questions.

He sat alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, who is charged with contravening the stadium's safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Mr Mackrell was the club's designated safety officer for the Hillsborough stadium.

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw warned the jury panel that the trial "might last three or even four months".

Other questions on the form included whether potential jurors, close family members or friends had ever been police officers or been employed by the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Independent Police Complaints Commission or any criminal justice agency.

The two defendants were asked to stand up so the panel could see whether anyone recognised them. A list of the witnesses to be called was also read out.

In addition, the panel was warned not to look up anything about the disaster on the internet.

After filling in the questionnaires 68 panel members were excused from serving on the jury.

Sir Peter told the remaining 32 he would allow them to reflect on their positions overnight and they would be able to make any further submissions on Tuesday, before the jury was selected by ballot.

Mr Duckenfield previously appeared via videolink to enter a not guilty plea to the charge of gross negligence manslaughter.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, because he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

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