Charging Decisions

The CPS have applied to lift a stay in prosecution on former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield so he can be charged with 95 counts of Gross Negligence Manslaughter.

Graham Mackrell, who at the time was the secretary and safety officer of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is charged with breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and breaches of the Safety at Sports Ground Act. He will appear before Warrington Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9th August.

In total Operation Resolve referred 12 individuals and 3 organisations (15 in total), to the CPS for a charging decision. For legal reasons we cannot name the individuals unless they are charged, but we can name the organisations;

  • Sheffield Wednesday Football Club plc
  • The Football Association
  • South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS)

There were a further 7 individuals and 2 organisations who we suspected of committing an offence that were not referred for the following reasons.

  • 3 are deceased so they could not be referred to the CPS for a charging decision
  • 3 retired police officers, were not referred. Following lengthy investigations, the SIO, Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Malkin, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to refer them to the CPS for a charging decision. All remain under investigation for misconduct offences and will remain suspects until those conduct investigations have concluded. This decision was ratified by the IPCC Commissioner, Rachel Cerfontyne.
  • 1 was sent to CPS for advice and as a result of that advice, the SIO has taken the decision not to refer this individual. There was insufficient evidence that his acts and omissions at work affected the health and safety of others.
  • Eastwood and Partners and Sheffield City Council were not referred following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. Details of this and other advice given to Operation Resolve is detailed below.


Advice sought by Operation Resolve

In December 2016, when Operation Resolve referred files to the CPS for charging decisions, a number of other matters were submitted to the CPS for advice. The outcome of that advice is as follows:

South Yorkshire Police (SYP)

South Yorkshire police were referred for consideration in two contexts; offences contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) and Corporate Manslaughter. Prior to 1998, police officers were not subject to the application of the HSWA, and the legislation cannot be applied retrospectively.  For a corporate manslaughter offence to be applicable to SYP it would need to be shown that the Chief Constable was personably grossly negligent in relation to the disaster. This cannot be proven in law in the circumstances relating to Hillsborough.

Eastwood and Partners  

The relevant companies from the time of the disaster have been dissolved, removed from the register, and no longer exist. In the circumstances, no corporate body that has (or continues to involve) the identity /undertaking of Eastwood and Partners is capable of facing prosecution concerning events and failures around the 15th April 1989 disaster. Therefore, there is no basis for a reasonable suspicion of criminality to justify rendering any such entity a suspect.

Sheffield City Council (SCC)

Advice was sought about the culpability of the SCC under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act (SSGA) and the HSWA. As the SCC was the regulating local authority and the issuer of the safety certificate under the SSGA, it cannot be subject to offences under that same Act. The HSWA was also considered. On close examination, though, there was no basis for a reasonable suspicion of criminality to justify rendering SCC a suspect in respect of a S.3 breach of that Act (i.e. regarding the conduct of its undertaking concerned with the monitoring of the conditions of the Safety Certificate).

South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS)

Operation Resolve investigated alterations to SYMAS statements. Advice was sought on whether the alterations could be criminal. When interviewed, those unaware of the changes in their account did not consider their evidence had been altered unlawfully and, in all cases, confirmed they had signed the final document, and agree with its content. Some amended statements lessened criticism of SYMAS; others had the opposite effect. A number of amendments simply added clarity. Only two were altered in a manner that potentially affected evidential accuracy. However, there was insufficient evidence who may have been responsible for the changes. In those circumstances, there was no basis to attribute to any particular individual a reasonable suspicion of criminality.

Employee of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club

In addition to Graham Mackrell, the role and responsibility of one other employee of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club was assessed against the SSGA and HSWA legislation. Given the scope of this this individual’s responsibility within the club, it has not been possible to demonstrate that he was a responsible person under SSGA and there is insufficient evidence that he failed to act with reasonable care under HSWA.