A structural engineer who designed the pens which Liverpool fans crowded into during the Hillsborough disaster said they were ‘very dangerous’ unless carefully monitored.
Dr Wilfred Eastwood made the statement during his evidence to the 1989 Taylor Inquiry into the tragedy.
Counsel to the new inquests in Warrington, Jonathan Hough, yesterday took the jury through that 1989 evidence because Dr Eastwood was too ill to attend court.
When questioned at the Taylor Inquiry, Dr Eastwood agreed the pens were ‘very dangerous’ without their own turnstiles, unless great care was taken to ensure they did not become overcrowded. When asked if it was envisaged there would be police control over numbers when the pens were created on the Leppings Lane terraces, Dr Eastwood said: “When you start penning, there must be control.”
The jury heard Dr Eastwood was asked if he had made it clear it was important to have a means of ensuring the centre pen did not become overcrowded.
He said: “I didn’t have to advise. I was told there was. I was told ‘we control it’.”
Dr Eastwood said he didn’t know there had been no control over the number of fans entering the pens by the police or Sheffield Wednesday, and if he had known he would have ‘had a very serious but friendly talk with the appropriate people’.
He said: “The police have been assuring us they will control the packing in these pens, switching from one pen to another.
“We made those gates so they could close one part of that central area if it was filled, before the other.
“It was a nonsense that these pens were constructed if it wasn’t, and we were assured at the time that this was the whole object of the exercise.”
The jury was also told the capacities of pens three and four, where the fatal crush happened, were not arrived at ‘scientifically or mathematically’.
In his 1989 evidence Dr Eastwood also said in ‘hindsight’ the official capacity figure of 10,100 for the Leppings Lane terraces at Hillsborough was ‘too high’.