A police inspector who was on duty at Hillsborough has been accused of doing nothing as the 1989 disaster which ended with 96 Liverpool FC fans crushed unfolded.
Brian Wallace showed a lack of leadership and ‘froze’, spending ‘the best part of 45 minutes doing nothing’, the jury at the inquest in Warrington heard yesterday.
But Mr Wallace ‘strongly denied’ the accusation, and said he initially thought he was dealing with a public order situation rather than a major disaster.
Mr Wallace had spent most of the day policing Nottingham Forest fans outside the ground.
He told Stephen Simblet, representing 10 of the families, that he had not been asked to go inside the stadium but made a management decision to go.
He said: “Had I been told it was a major disaster, I would have had a completely different attitude towards it.”
The jury heard Mr Wallace realised what was happening inside the ground only when Kenny Dalglish - Liverpool manager at the time - made an announcement trying to calm the crowd.
Mr Simblet said: “The reality is, isn’t it, that although you were an inspector, you didn’t show the sort of leadership, control and clear thinking that was required?
“You didn’t do what was needed to help those people, did you? You just froze.
“You spent the best part of 45 minutes doing nothing, didn’t you?”
Mr Wallace replied: “I completely and utterly refute that accusation.”
Mr Wallace said that, after Mr Dalglish made the announcement, he left the cordon and went to help because he was a first aid instructor.
He said: “I knew now we were dealing with what turned out to be a major disaster, rather than a big fight.”
Earlier Mr Wallace told Christina Lambert, counsel to the inquests, that when officers first started to hear speculation that people had died, they dismissed it as ‘ridiculous’.