A former senior police officer on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster has told a jury it was a mistake to remove the previous match commander from his post three weeks before the fateful FA cup semi final in 1989.
Ex superintendent Roger Marshall was giving evidence for the third day at the new inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans.
Paul Greaney QC who is representing junior South Yorkshire Police officers at the hearing, suggested to Mr Marshall that had former match commander Brian Mole still been in overall command on April 15, not a single life would have been lost.
Mr Marshall said he could not say.
The former superintendent, who opened perimeter Gate C allowing fans into the ground because he feared lives would be lost, was then asked whether chief superintendent Mole would have done the same, without deciding how he was going to manage the consequences.
Mr Marshall said he probably would not have done and then agreed, in hindsight, it was probably a mistake to move Brian Mole so close to the match.
The jury has been told Chief Supt Mole was moved to Barnsley from his post as Hillsborough match commander three weeks before the game for ‘career development’ reasons and replaced with Supt David Duckenfield, who had never commanded a football match of that size before.
It has been claimed Chief Supt Mole was moved for the way he dealt with a prank during which a probationary PC was blindfolded, handcuffed and led to believe he was threatened with a gun.
Mr Marshall was also asked questions by his own barrister, John Beggs QC.
He agreed he did not think there was a crowd problem until around 2.30pm and at around 2.45pm to 2.47pm his request for gates to be opened was heard by control.
He agreed in the 15 minutes that followed the crowd became ‘increasingly loud’ and those at the front became ‘increasingly frightened’ and ‘increasingly uncooperative’.
Geoffrey Moody, a Chelsea fan who went to the semi-final with two friends, told the inquest he was pushed against the fence.
He said: “I and many others, including young girls as well, were screaming and almost crying, actually, to please open the gates, which we were doing for some considerable time, and we were just told by several officers just to push back.”
He told the court he then passed out and woke up on the pitch before being taken to the gym at the ground.
The hearing continues.