Hillsborough match chief admits his failings caused deaths of 96

David Duckenfield arrives at the hearing in Warrington
David Duckenfield arrives at the hearing in Warrington
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The match commander at the Hillsborough disaster has admitted his failure to close a tunnel ‘directly caused’ 96 deaths.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield also accepted he ‘froze’ during the afternoon of the 1989 football disaster.

Ninety-six Liverpool FC fans died after being crushed on the terraces at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium.

Mr Duckenfield was giving evidence for a sixth day at the new inquests.

He made the admission under questioning from Paul Greaney QC, on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

Mr Duckenfield, now aged 70, denied claims he ‘bottled it’ and ‘panicked’ as the disaster unfolded.

The jury heard the former chief superintendent had at least three minutes to ‘consider the consequences’ of opening an exit gate, as a crowd of fans built up outside.

Mr Greaney suggested a child could have realised what would happen when the gate, which allowed up to 2,000 fans to enter, was opened.

Mr Duckenfield said he did not think of it because of the pressure he was under.

He was asked by Heather Williams, on behalf of the family of victim John McBrien, why he had not used a service road to create more space, as fans arrived at the ground ahead of the game.

Mr Duckenfield said: “It was a space but not one I wanted to use. I did not think of that at all.”

Ms Williams suggested he could have deployed manpower to the area and organised the situation.

He said with hindsight he agreed.

Ms Williams said: “Do you accept that if it had been used it could have avoided the tragedy that occurred?”

He replied: “Yes, ma’am.”

Mr Duckenfield accepted he made major errors because of his inexperience, but said he had not sought to blame others for his own shortcomings.

Asked if he accepted the disaster was the result of his serious failings, he replied: “Together with others, yes.”

The inquests continue.

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