Hillsborough families say fine for club official values lives of the 96

Jason Beer QC, defending, said: “Thirty years has elapsed since this offence was committed, but Mr Mackrell was told in August 1990 that he wasn’t going to be prosecuted and lived his life accordingly.”He has spent two years with this hanging over his head.” He said senior police officers had also been aware of the arrangement for turnstiles on the day.He added: “He wasn’t part of any cover up, he wasn’t part of any concealment of facts. He was blameless for the delay of 30 years.”He said at the time, Hillsborough had been regarded as one of the safest stadiums in the country.Judge Openshaw said if Mackrell had been sentenced under the guidelines of today he could have faced a maximum of two years in prison.He said Mackrell had been exposed to public “vilification” since the disaster.He said: “The disaster and its aftermath has had a serious and lasting effect on him and his family.” Mackrell, of Stocking Peltham in Hertfordshire, had originally faced three charges relating to the disaster, but two counts of contravening terms or conditions of the ground’s safety certificate were dropped during proceedings.He stood trial alongside match commander David Duckenfield but, after deliberating for 29 hours and six minutes, the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether the former chief superintendent was guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 of the victims.A hearing to decide whether Duckenfield will face a retrial is expected to be held next month.Judge Openshaw said Mackrell would be given a fine which was 600% of his weekly income.The court heard he made £700-a-week in his job as administrator for the Football League Managers’ Association and earned an additional £670-a-week from pensions.There was laughter from the public gallery as Mr Beer said Mackrell had “modest” savings of £5,000.Mr Beer told the court: “Mr Mackrell made a mistake and he made the same mistake that others may have made.” “He went on to bigger and better things, he was promoted. This is a man who has been paid very well and gone on to do other things. That should not have happened.”She said she was “absolutely livid” when reference was made in court to Mackrell’s good character and said if he was “any kind of professional person and decent man” then he would have answered the 22 questions put to him by officers from Operation Resolve – the criminal inquiry into Hillsborough – rather than give no comment.The court heard there were seven turnstiles available for the 10,100 Liverpool fans with standing tickets.Judge Sir Peter Openshaw said: “He should have realised there was an obvious risk that so many spectators could not pass through seven turnstiles in time for kick-off.” Families of the Hillsborough disaster victims have reacted angrily to the £6,500 fine handed out to a former secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, saying it values each of the 96 at just £67.70. Graham Mackrell, 69, who was safety officer for the club at the time of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, was sentenced on Monday after he was found guilty of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act in respect of ensuring there were enough turnstiles to prevent unduly large crowds building up outside the ground.But outside Preston Crown Court, an enraged Louise Brookes, whose brother Andrew died at Hillsborough, said: “Our 96 are dead and all its worth is £67.70 each. Shameful. Thirty years to get to this.”Our 96 deserve better than this and us families deserve better than this. We are all getting on in age and enough is enough.”My weekly shopping costs more than £67.70.”Speaking of Mackrell, Christine Burke, whose father Henry died in the disaster, said: “When Hillsborough happened he was in charge of the safety certificate at the time and he should have been sacked straightaway. There should have been no way that he could have pursued his career as he did do after Hillsborough. Mackrell, wearing a suit with blue shirt and purple tie, sat in the well of the court rather than the dock for the sentencing.In a statement, Mackrell said: “I am grateful that today the judge recognised my conduct did not cause or contribute to the death of any person or cause any person to be injured on that tragic day.”Despite that, I do wish to take this opportunity to make clear my sympathy to all those impacted by this appalling tragedy. No-one should have to go through what the families have experienced. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “Due to the ongoing legal processes involving other defendants, I will not be making any further comment.”About half a dozen family members sat in the public gallery and nine members of the press were also in court, with others watching from an annexe.Three members of the jury returned to hear the sentencing.The former club secretary, the first person to be convicted for an offence relating to the disaster, was found guilty of by a majority of 10 to two on April 3 following an 10-week trial.Ninety-six Liverpool fans died following the crush in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989, after exit gates to the ground were opened to relieve a build-up of crowds outside.But, Judge Openshaw said Mackrell’s offence did not directly cause the disaster inside the ground.He said: “The defendant’s offence was at least one of the direct causes of the crush at the turnstiles outside the ground but it was not a direct cause of the crush on the terraces inside the ground that resulted in the deaths of 96 spectators and injury to many more, to which the crush outside the ground did no more than set the scene.”