Why charges could not be brought against Sheffield Wednesday regarding the Hillsborough disaster

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We know the sentencing of Graham Mackrell on May 13 for his role in the Hillsborough disaster has been an important milestone for everybody affected by the events of that tragic day.

There has been coverage in The Guardian which questions why charges were never brought against Sheffield Wednesday, the club at which the incident happened. We know this is an ongoing concern for some people and want to offer some further clarity.

While it is true that Sheffield Wednesday as a club has never ceased to exist, the company responsible for the club in 1989 only existed on paper and had no assets. As a matter of law, each company is a separate legal entity and only the company in existence can be criminally liable for the tragic events in April 1989.

This means that any financial penalty in the event of a conviction would not be payable by any other person including the present owner and shareholders. It is understandable that families and others regard there being no real difference, but the legal entity responsible for paying any criminal penalty is not the same.

Any civil liability of the company for consequences of events in 1989 remains the responsibility of the insurer from that time.

Background

It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice ongoing proceedings.

Further reading