Socialist Worker

More lies from cops, Hillsborough inquests hear

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2442

Hillsborough memorial

Hillsborough memorial (Pic: Edmund Gall/Flickr)


Police lied about the Hillsborough football disaster, according to a doctor giving evidence to inquests this week.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at the Sheffield stadium in 1989. Dr Niall Wilson gave evidence to fresh inquests into their deaths on Monday of this week.

He described hearing radio reports that Liverpool fans had stormed a gate to enter the stadium. He told the jury, “I knew for a fact that the police had lied about that,” because he had seen a steward with an officer open the gate.

Niall was a fourth year medical student at the time of the match and attended as a Liverpool supporter. He agreed that a poor emergency response meant “lives had been lost that could have been saved”.

Niall said no stewards or officers directed fans after gate C was opened to relieve a crush at the Leppings Lane end outside the ground.

On entering fans faced a tunnel leading to pens 3 and 4, where the crush occurred. Niall said, “I think almost everybody I saw went straight down the tunnel.”

Niall tried to help injured fans after he escaped pen 3. He said “basic life support” was the main thing required. But he said many police officers were unaware of basic first aid and that ambulance workers had “very little equipment”.

Niall described the situation following the crush as “totally disorganised. It was total chaos.”

“There didn’t appear to be anyone in charge,” he added. “It struck me at the time and still does that it had been dealt with as a riot rather than a medical emergency.”

Vague

Niall said he introduced himself to an officer in a flat cap who he assumed to be in charge and asked what he could do. He said the officer was “extremely vague” and “didn’t direct me anywhere” so he left the ground soon after.

Niall described putting one injured fan into the recovery position who had been lying on their back having swallowed their tongue. “They rapidly regained consciousness,” he said.

He saw some fans with their faces covered presumed dead. But he confirmed that he wasn’t in a position to say whether they were dead or not and that he “didn’t check anybody in that situation”.

Former South Yorkshire County Fire Service station officer Lawrence Fletcher also gave evidence.

He said fire service workers would “work to the police” as the crush was “a police-led incident”.

Yet when Lawrence arrived at Hillsborough he said a police officer told him he “didn’t know” where he should go.

Lawrence went to the police control box to ask who was in charge. He said officers there “told me it was Mr Duckenfield” but “they didn’t know where he was”.

“They didn’t give me any information at all that could be useful,” he added.

He said he did not feel that the officers in the control box had control of the stadium and that command structures had “broken down”.

David Lockwood was divisional officer at the fire service at the time of the disaster. He told the jury that “any incident other than a fire, the police are in charge”.

David also went to the police control box to ask for direction. “I asked for who was in charge, both of the ambulance service and the police service, and was told they did not know,” he told the jury.

“They virtually ignored me from then on.”

The inquests continue.


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