Former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison has been charged with four counts of misconduct in a public office over allegations that he lied about how the 1989 stadium crush unfolded.
Two more former officers from South Yorkshire Police (SYP), chief superintendent Donald Denton and detective chief inspector Alan Foster, and solicitor Peter Metcalf, who acted for the force, have been charged with perverting the course of justice.
Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell has been charged with breaching health and safety legislation.
All except for Duckenfield are due to appear in court in Warrington on 9 August.
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The prosecutions come more than 28 years after the tragedy – a crowd crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground which resulted in 96 deaths – and months after a new inquest ruled that the supporters had been unlawfully killed.
Crown Prosecution Service special crime and counter-terrorism chief Sue Hemming said: “Following these thorough investigations and our careful review of the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial.”
She added that the CPS was still investigating West Midlands Police, which was initially asked to assess SYP’s conduct.
Duckenfield cannot at this stage be charged over the death of the 96th victim, who died four years after the incident, due to a previous private prosecution.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I know from working closely with the families when I was Home Secretary that this will be a day of mixed emotions for them.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I think we should pay tribute to all of those that spent a great deal of time trying to ensure there was justice for those that died at Hillsborough.”