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Hillsborough: Police, Fa, Council And Club Could Face Manslaughter Charges

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Manslaughter charges could be brought against the South Yorkshire police force and senior officers on duty when 96 people died at the Hillsborough football stadium on 15 April 1989, according to the senior detective leading a new criminal investigation into the disaster.

Speaking for the first time about what he labelled a criminal inquiry of "unprecedented scale", Jon Stoddart, former chief constable of the Durham force, said his team were exploring the culpability of not just the police, but Sheffield Wednesday football club, the city council and the Football Association. All were being investigated for possible gross negligence manslaughter, he said.

Stoddart is one of the country's most experienced detectives. He oversaw a review into the new phone hacking investigation run by the Metropolitan police and for 10 years was the leading expert on homicide investigations in England and Wales.

In an interview with the Guardian marking a year since the Hillsborough independent panel published a devastating report into the disaster, Stoddart said his criminal investigation was investigating all agencies involved in the tragedy. "We are exploring all liability, both public and individual," he said.

"We are looking at unlawful killing; who is responsible for the deaths. Those 96 people went to Hillsborough to watch a football match and didn't return home. We want to know what happened, how it happened and why, and who is responsible.

"Obviously we are looking at the command and control [of the 54,000 crowd at Hillsborough by South Yorkshire police] on 15 April. But clearly it is about more than just command and control and what happened with the emergency services' response. It is about the safety of the stadium, certification, the planning and preparation, the engineering and design that went into the Leppings Lane end [where the 96 people died]."

His investigation, called Operation Resolve, is operating under the laws that existed in 1989, when organisations could be charged with "gross negligence manslaughter" if a single person was identifiably at fault as the "controlling mind". The new crime of corporate manslaughter that entered the statute books in 2008 cannot be used retrospectively.

The investigation will examine the role of Sheffield Wednesday football club, which offered to host the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at its ground despite serial breaches of the Home Office guide to ground safety and a safety certificate 10 years out of date.

Sheffield city council, which was statutorily responsible for licensing the stadium as safe, and the FA, which commissioned the ground for its semi-final despite Hillsborough's safety breaches and previous crushes at semi-finals there in 1981, 1987 and 1988, are also being investigated for potential manslaughter charges.

I wonder how far this will get, under this 1989 law were there many successful prosecutions? Considering the case it would appear difficult to blame a "single" person.

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I wonder how far this will get, under this 1989 law were there many successful prosecutions? Considering the case it would appear difficult to blame a "single" person.

The 'single person' quote is a bit odd. Would they get off if they were married?

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