How will the location of the prosecution in Hillsborough be decided?


Five of the people indicted yesterday will appear for the first time in Warrington Magistrates’ Court, but that does not mean that future hearings will be held in the city.

The six suspects, who are charged with the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath, will have the courts decide the venue of future hearings.

The first hearings will take place in Warrington, but options remain open for all hearings before the Crown Court.

The indictment decisions – at which Commander David Duckenfield and former Merseyside Chief Constable Norman Bettison will be among those to be tried – marked the beginning of what is likely to be an extensive trial.

It is unlikely that trials will take place in Merseyside or Yorkshire as a result of the indictment.

Defendants tend to appear in the courts closest to where they live – but this may not be the case with the Hillsborough charges.

The vast majority of prosecutions begin in magistrates’ courts, with those accused of more serious offences – and those who deny the charges against them – usually having their cases referred to Crown Courts.

Any trials resulting from trials – although Bettison is likely to face one after announcing plans to defend himself vigorously against allegations of misconduct in public office – would not take place in Merseyside or South Yorkshire.

Police officers are usually brought to justice outside the areas where they worked.

This is because juries are taken from the region where the court is presided over and the public in these areas is likely to have a deeper awareness of the background to the cases than elsewhere.

So Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield Crown Courts are unlikely targets – although ECHO understands that Yorkshire as a whole is probably excluded.

For Bettison this would include the area of West Yorkshire where he once served as Chief Constable.

Justice usually decides where cases are heard and in the run-up to the new Hillsborough investigations, Lord Justice Goldring initially demanded that they be held in the North West.


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