Hillsborough disaster jurors hear evidence given by deceased police officer

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Jurors in the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans at the Hillsborough disaster were read statements from the man who drew up the policing plan for the ill-fated game in April 1989.

Chief Superintendent Brian Mole, who is now dead, was also match day commander at Hillsborough for FA Cup semi finals the two previous years.

Statements he gave following the disaster revealed that he had suggested some reductions in manpower at the game on April 15, 1989 because there had been too much manpower the previous year.

Mr Mole was asked before the disaster whether he had believed the ground to be safe to be used for a full capacity crowd and he had answered ‘yes’, he said in his statement following the deaths.

He said before the disaster he didn’t ever hear anybody say they could foresee a risk of death by crushing on the Leppings Lane terrace and nothing had ever led him to expect this could happen.

Jurors were told that when giving evidence to a previous inquiry into the disaster, Mr Mole had been asked what he had felt about the decision to replace him with Chief Superintendent David Duckinfield just a few weeks before such a big game at Hillsborough.

He said he did not question his transfer because his replacement had a lot of experience.

Mr Mole, who lectured on the policing of football matches from 1979 to 1989, was considered a national expert.

Sergeant David Batty of South Yorkshire Police, who was on duty on the day of the disaster, said he heard a message from an officer over his personal radio for gates to be opened at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

In his original police statement he used the work ‘pleading’ but it was replaced with the word ‘requesting’.

He said he could not recollect the process leading up to the signing of the statement.

Mark George, representing some of the victims’ families, suggested his statement had been ‘sanitised’.

The hearing continues.