Following up from yesterday’s Hillsborough trial announcement, the trial of two former police officers and a former police solicitor continues at the Lowry Nightingale court.
South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 71, and a former solicitor for the police, Peter Metcalf, 71, are alleged to have perverted the course of justice following the 1989 tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC, told the court: “The allegation is that these three tried to minimise the blame that might be heaped upon the South Yorkshire Police at the many different forms of inquiry that followed that dreadful day.
“They did this by altering accounts given by police officers who were present on the day.
“They knew that those accounts were inevitably going to end up being sent to a number of inquiries that would follow the disaster.”
The court heard Metcalf, the solicitor, advised on what alterations should be made and Denton and Foster followed his advice and changed the accounts.
Jurors were told to “forget everything” they had heard before about the disaster and concentrate only on the evidence heard in court.
Ms Whitehouse told the court Metcalf was a partner in solicitors’ firm Hammond Suddards, who was asked to act for Municipal Mutual Insurance, the insurers of the South Yorkshire Police, after the disaster.
He was also instructed to act for the police at an inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Taylor to look at safety at sports events following the tragedy and in any civil litigation.
Ms Whitehouse said: “West Midlands Police took charge of the investigations after the disaster and asked for written accounts made by officers who were present on the day to be handed over to them.”
Before the accounts were handed over, Metcalf reviewed them, suggested alterations and his instructions were carried out by Foster and Denton, the court heard.
“A number of accounts were altered by them, or at their direction. The effect of the alterations was to mask the failings on the part of South Yorkshire Police in their planning and execution of the policing of the football match.” Ms Whitehouse said.
Denton, of Bents Drive, Sheffield, Foster, of Rossett Avenue, Harrogate, and Metcalf, of Cragg Drive, Ilkley, each deny two counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.