Hillsborough trial: Jurors asked to reveal football allegiances

Graham Mackrell and David Duckenfield

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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.

About a dozen 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, who both wore suits and sat alongside solicitors, were asked to stand so the panel could see whether they recognised them and a list of witnesses to be called was read out.

The panel was also warned not to look up anything about the disaster on the internet.

Court was adjourned while the potential jurors filled in the questionnaires.

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, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

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