Socialist Worker

Hillsborough cop agrees that police 'did nothing' to stop crush

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2431

The Hillsborough Disaster memorial

The Hillsborough disaster memorial (Pic: flikr: Nick)

A police sergeant on duty during the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster has said the officers in charge on the day “didn’t step up to the plate”.

Some 96 Liverpool football fans died as a result of the disaster.

Michael Goddard agreed that the match commander, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, “did nothing” to stop a crush developing.

Duckenfield had given an order for a gate to be opened at the Leppings Lane end of the ground to allow more fans into the stadium.

Goddard agreed that it was the “duty of the match commander to consider the consequences of opening those gates”.

He also agreed that Superintendent Murray, the second in command, failed to protect fans.

Goddard said it would have been natural for fans entering through the Leppings Lane turnstiles to head down a tunnel that led to pens 3 and 4.

The crush occurred in these pens.

He said that officers had stopped fans entering a full pen during a previous match.

"The end of the tunnel was physically blocked by a serial to prevent any further spectators getting in,” he said.

He told the inquests that “we probably should have done something” to ensure fans did not join the already full pens 3 and 4.

But he said that superintendent Murray had said police should let fans “find their own level” rather than direct them into different pens.


Goddard operated the radio inside the police control box on the day of the disaster.

His original statement had referred to radio problems and problems during previous matches, but these parts were deleted.

Goddard told jurors he wasn’t aware of the changes.

He also referred to police manning the tunnel during previous matches. A sentence was added  reading, “The reason for the police presence was segregation of fans and had nothing to do with safety.”

Goddard said he would have kept his remarks about radio problems and said that he “agreed” with the statement about policing the tunnel.

But he later said it “doesn’t apply to semi-finals and the bigger matches at all”, because fans from opposing teams wouldn’t use the same turnstiles.

Goddard was shown a letter from South Yorkshire Police solicitors referring to his statement.

It read, “I would like the final paragraph to be reviewed, not only in relation to the general points made above, but in the reference to the radio being useless and pop music being received for ‘a long period’ last year.”

The letter also suggested that Goddard’s comment about policing the tunnel should be expanded to stating the purpose was to segregate fans and not safety.

Goddard told the jury that he wasn’t aware of the letter and that “nothing’s ever been said to me” about the solicitors’ advice.

Chief inspector Robert McRobbie also told the inquests that his statement had been changed but that he hadn’t been aware of it.

The inquests continue.

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