Socialist Worker

Hillsborough match commander admits he made mistake during day of disaster

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2494

A memorial to the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster

A memorial to the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster (Pic: Flickr/Ben Sutherland)

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield accepted that it was a mistake not to close the tunnel to pens 3 and 4, a court has heard.

Coroner Sir John Goldring is summing up evidence given to fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans.

The fans died after a crush in pens 3 and 4 at Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium in April 1989.

Duckenfield ordered a gate open to allow fans into the ground after a crush built up outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles.

The coroner reminded the court that David Duckenfield said his mind “went blank” when the gate opened.

Duckenfield said he was “overcome, probably with the emotion of us having got into that situation”.

Sir John Goldring told the jury, “He agreed that the most likely route for fans would be through the tunnel.”

Duckenfield had told the court that it was “arguably one of the biggest regrets of my life, that I did not foresee where fans would go”.

Sir John said, “He said the possibility of overcrowding in the pens did not occur to him. He accepted that it was a mistake not to have taken steps to close the tunnel.”

Duckenfield previously told the inquests, “If I had been a knowledgeable, experienced match commander at Hillsborough, it should have been expected of me to know that. But sadly I wasn’t.”

The coroner said Duckenfield did not consider how many more fans had yet to arrive at the Leppings Lane turnstiles. He said Duckenfield “said that having had time to consider it over the years, he most certainly should have done”.

The coroner also reminded the jury that Duckenfield did not realise “at any stage” that pens 3 and 4 were full or overcrowded, including when the match was stopped.

The judge will continue to sum up evidence given to the inquests before the jury retires to consider its verdicts.


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