Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, now 74, denied the charges against him in connection with the deaths of 95 people at the 1989 tragedy. He wasn’t charged over the death of the 96th victim who died more than a year later.
The jury at Preston Crown Court spent eight days deliberating, and had been told by judge Sir Peter Openshaw on Monday that he would accept a majority verdict.
Yet the jury was discharged early Wednesday after being unable to reach a decision.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told CNN that it will now seek a retrial in front of a new jury after what had been an “incredibly complex” trial. However, the CPS said it understood Duckenfield’s defense team would seek to stay proceedings.
The jury did find Graham Mackrell, former secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, guilty on a separate charge of breaching his safety duty. He will be sentenced on May 13.
Mackrell was a safety officer for the club’s Hillsborough ground at the time of the disaster which happened during an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham forest.
‘Outcome of mixed emotions’
The families of Hillsborough victims have battled for 30 years to gain accountability for loss of their loved ones.
There have been a number of inquiries into the disaster, including the 1990 Taylor Report, the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel Report and the 2016 Hillsborough Inquest.
A joint statement by Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool region, and Andy Burnham, the current mayor of Manchester said: “we know the families will be feeling a mixture of frustration and vindication.”
“There are many things we would like to say but can’t due to the fact that this is an ongoing process. But we can at least say that, today, at long last, someone has been held to account for what happened — a vindication of the long fought battle by families and campaigners for truth and justice.
Burnham was a prominent voice for the Hillsborough families while part of the Labour government between 2009 and 2010.
“Our thoughts are with all those who continue to be affected by the Hillsborough tragedy and the 96 Liverpool supporters who went to watch their team and never came home.”
The UK’s Press Association reported that the prosecution argued Duckenfield had the “ultimate responsibility” for safety at the ground and should have had the knowledge to make “key life-saving decisions.”
However, the defense stated the case was “breathtakingly unfair” and that Duckenfield had “tried to do the right thing,” according to PA.
Police had opened an exit gate to relieve a bottleneck of Liverpool fans trying to enter the venue before kick-off of the keenly anticipated match.
More than 3,000 fans were funneled into a standing area with a safe capacity for just 1,600 people.
The fatal crush led to the game abandoned after just six minutes with fans spilling onto the pitch as the scale of the disaster became clear.
All-seater stadiums subsequently became compulsory in the Premier League and the Championship — English football’s second tier.