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John Vander Luit

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Solicitor in court to face Hillsborough charges

Solicitor in court to face Hillsborough charges


Peter Metcalf charged with intent to pervert the course of justice

A solicitor who acted for South Yorkshire Police in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster has appeared at Warrington Magistrates’ Court charged with perverting the course of justice.

Peter Metcalf, who was admitted to the roll in 1977, acted for the police force during the Taylor inquiry and the first inquests into the tragedy that took the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

The charges against the solicitor relate to alleged material changes made to witness statements.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC told Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot that Metcalf is accused of altering witness statement of police officers, a charge that must be dealt with at the crown court.

Metcalf was among six men charged in June with criminal offences in relation to the 1989 stadium disaster and its aftermath. The four other men appearing alongside the solicitor in court on 9 August were:

• Former chief constable of Merseyside Police Sir Norman Bettison, charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office relating to alleged lies about the culpability of the fans;

• Graham Mackrell, former club secretary of Sheffield Wednesday football club, charged with breaching health and safety legislation; and

• Former chief superintendent Donald Denton and former detective chief inspector Alan Foster, both accused of perverting the course of justice.

Mackrell pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. The court was told that Metcalf, Sir Norman, Denton, and Foster, will plead not guilty when their cases reach crown court on 6 September. All were bailed until next month.

A sixth man, former chief superintendent David Duckenfield, was not required to attend Warrington Magistrates’ Court.

Duckenfield, who was match commander at the time of the disaster, was the subject of a private prosecution in 1999. The Crown Prosecution Service is currently applying to the High Court to lift a court order so that he may be charged with gross negligence manslaughter of 95 men, women, and children.

The CPS said it will not bring a prosecution for the death of the 96th casualty, Anthony Bland, as he died almost four years after the disaster, meaning prosecution is out of time.

Announcing the decision to bring charges against the six in June, Sue Hemming, head of the CPS special crime and counter terrorism division, said: “Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences.

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary, or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

Image credit: Hillsborough Inquests

John van der Luit-Drummond, deputy editor | @JvdLD