Hillsborough Disaster special feature: Ex-police Inspector gave explosive evidence at inquest

Former South Yorkshire Police Inspector Harry White at the Hillsborough Inquests in Warrington
Former South Yorkshire Police Inspector Harry White at the Hillsborough Inquests in Warrington
0
Have your say

Police inspector Harry White was not a high-profile figure in the days, months and years which followed the Hillsborough Disaster.

But his explosive inquest evidence at Warrington, 26 years after the tragedy, certainly put a different slant on things.

Pictured is what is thought to be  thought to be Inspector Harry White

 on the pitch at the Hillsborough disaster

Pictured is what is thought to be thought to be Inspector Harry White on the pitch at the Hillsborough disaster

Mr White felt the force ‘abdicated responsibility’ by allowing Liverpool fans to go where they wanted in the standing sections at Hillsborough. He revealed he normally directed fans into the central pens three and four, and when they were full, closed the tunnel off and sent fans down the sides where it was less congested.

But, a fortnight before the tragedy, he said Supt Bernard Murray told him he didn’t concur with the method of herding people into pens and filling gaps.

related articles:

Hillborough victims’ unlawfully killed’ jury rules

Bernard Murray, 58, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, formerly of South Yorkshire Police arrives at Leeds Crown Court to begin legal arguement into the Hillsborough disaster Tuesday 6 June 2000. Murray has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of John Alfred Anderson and James Gary Aspinall on April 15, 1989. Mr Anderson, 62, and Mr Aspinall, 18, both of Merseyside, were among 96 fans who died at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. PA photo: John Giles. See PA story COURTS Hillsborough.

Bernard Murray, 58, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, formerly of South Yorkshire Police arrives at Leeds Crown Court to begin legal arguement into the Hillsborough disaster Tuesday 6 June 2000. Murray has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of John Alfred Anderson and James Gary Aspinall on April 15, 1989. Mr Anderson, 62, and Mr Aspinall, 18, both of Merseyside, were among 96 fans who died at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. PA photo: John Giles. See PA story COURTS Hillsborough.

Hillsborough criminal investigations could conclude this year

Victims families arrive to hear Hillsborough inquest verdicts

Hillsborough Disaster Special Feature - How Sheffielders opened up homes to Liverpool fans

The full answers from the Hillsborough jury

The tunnel which Liverpool fans piled down...despite the fact the pens were full at the other end.

The tunnel which Liverpool fans piled down...despite the fact the pens were full at the other end.

Sheffield in the dock: £90m criminal investigations into Hillsborough disaster target city organisations

Video: Force admits policing of Hillsborough match was catastrophically wrong

Mr White told the inquests: “He said: ‘Just let them get in and let the fans just reach their own level’.

“He’d said he was in the best position in the control box to see what was happening in the pens and if they got too full or anything like that, he would take action by using his reserve serials.

“My personal opinion was we were abdicating responsibility for controlling the crowd to the fans themselves, and just leaving them to it.

“All the time that I had ever policed that end, we had always put them in the pens where we wanted them, not just leave it to them to find out.”

Mr White also gave an unusual insight into a convivial meeting at the Niagara police sports bar after the disaster.

There he met up with match commander Chf Supt David Duckenfield, Supt Murray, and other officers.

He said: “I asked Mr Duckenfield in front of everybody, ‘Who opened the gate?’

“He paused, looked around, took stock of his thoughts and he said ‘The gate is down to me. It is only me that can make an order for the gate to be opened.

‘I ordered the gate to be opened.’

“I was quite gobsmacked.”

White said Duckenfield was asked if officers should make notes of the day’s events in their notebooks.

He said the commander replied: “‘Well, they can’t do it in their notebooks because too much time has elapsed. Tell everybody to put everything down about today – thoughts, anything at all – but do it on plain paper’.”

Mr White also dropped a bombshell about a written statement he made at the time of the disaster.

Two pages of notes were deleted when his statement was typed up – although a passage of 20 years was to come and go before he discovered that had happened.

Mr White had described Duckenfield’s matchday briefing as “short and sharp”.

This, among other things, was scrubbed out.