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Two retired police officers and an ex-solicitor accused of altering police statements after the Hillsborough disaster have been acquitted.

Retired Ch Supt Donald Denton, retired Det Ch Insp Alan Foster and former solicitor Peter Metcalf had denied perverting the course of justice.

They were accused of trying to minimise the blame on South Yorkshire Police in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster.

Mr Justice William Davis ruled they had no case to answer.

He said the statements had been prepared for the public inquiry chaired by Lord Taylor in 1990.

The judge said this was not a statutory inquiry and therefore not considered "a court of law", so it was not a "course of public justice" which could be perverted.

Hillsborough victims
image captionNinety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the disaster on 15 April 1989.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the April 1989 stadium crush at the FA Cup semi-final match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

The three men had been on trial at the Nightingale Court at the Lowry Theatre in Salford for more than four weeks.

Mr Denton, 83, of Sheffield; Mr Foster, 74, of Harrogate; and Mr Metcalf, 71, of Ilkley, had all denied two counts of perverting the course of justice.

Presentational grey line
Analysis
By Judith Moritz, BBC North of England correspondent

The collapse of this trial will anger and distress many of those who've spent 32 years campaigning for "Justice for the 96".

It's likely that it will mark the end of the legal road for them, which has been long and winding, with few ups and many downs.

In 2016 they celebrated the inquests verdicts which found that the 96 had been unlawfully killed, and that the fans were not to blame.

There were high hopes for accountability. But the match commander David Duckenfield was acquitted after two trials, and the collapse of this aftermath trial means that no one has been convicted for the alleged cover-up.

Over the last three decades there have been four trials, two sets of inquests, a public inquiry and several other investigations and reviews.

Despite all of those proceedings, it remains the case that the bereaved families feel let down by the system. They feel that they know the truth of what happened to their loved ones, but they haven't had justice.

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