Police chief refuses to pay Hillsborough disaster legal fees for officer accused of manslaughter

David Duckenfield (PA)
David Duckenfield (PA)

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has refused to pay any more legal fees for the retired officer facing manslaughter charges over the Hillsborough disaster.

Dr Alan Billings revealed that South Yorkshire Police has already paid £7.6 million for David Duckenfield's legal fees during a private prosecution and the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans at the Hillsborough disaster, but a new application for extra funding for more legal bills has been turned down.

Former Chief Superintendent Duckenfield, who was in charge of the policing operation at Hillsborough in 1989 when fans were crushed to death on the terraces, is facing charges of manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 people following the inquests.

He has applied to South Yorkshire Police for financial assistance to help him fight the Crown Prosecution Service's application to lift a 'stay of prosecution' which was put in place in 2000 when jurors failed to reach a verdict after a private prosecution for manslaughter.

The suspension needs to be lifted in the High Court before Duckenfield can go on trial again.

His application also asks for cash to fund 'the cost of his defence' is the stay of prosecution is lifted.

Dr Billings said: "I have taken account of the finite resources available to South Yorkshire Police in the coming years and the impact that the decision to agree to the request could have on the budget commitments on the force.

He also said that he took into account the conclusion of the jury in the inquests into the deaths of the football fans at the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

He added: "The jury concluded that a breach of duty by the retired officer, which amounted to gross negligence, caused the death of 96 people who died at Hillsborough. I cannot ignore that conclusion."

Dr Billings added: "I have also had regard to the fact that this retired police officer has already received significant financial support."