Hillsborough trial: Jurors asked what team they support as day one commences

14 Jan

Potential jurors in the trial of the Hillsborough match commander have been asked to declare if they support Liverpool, Everton, Nottingham Forest or Sheffield Wednesday.

Those who do have been deemed partial and won’t be invited to serve as former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, 74, defends himself from charges of gross negligence manslaughter.

David Duckenfield, middle, is on trial for charges of gross negligence manslaughter

He is accused of failing to carry out his duty to protect supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Mr Duckenfield had been recently promoted by South Yorkshire Police prior to the match.

Any potential juror with a connection to the police force will also be unable to serve on the trial, which is the first criminal trial to take place in relation to the disaster.

Some family members of Hillsborough victims were at Preston Crown Court as the case began.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Club Secretary at the time, Graham Mackrel, is also on trial  after being charged with two counts of breaching health and safety

Ruling out potential jurors took most of the day and by the end the group of 100 had been whittled down to 32.

They will return on Tuesday when the judge will select 14 and the prosecution will proceed to open its case.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Club Secretary at the time, Graham Mackrell, is on trial alongside Mr Duckenfield charged with two counts of breaching health and safety.

The 69-year-old, who was also the club’s Safety Officer, denies the charges.

Both men were asked to stand and face the jury candidates to rule out any possibility a member of the group knew them personally.

Hillsborough’s 96th victim, Tony Bland, is not included on the indictment as his death occurred more than a year and a day after sustaining his injuries, which was the cut-off point for a manslaughter charge in 1989.

The trial is expected to last up to four months, which would see it span the 30th anniversary of the tragedy on 15 April.