Police statements handed in to Hillsborough ‘war office’

Hillsborough pitch
Hillsborough pitch
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Police officers’ statements about the Hillsborough disaster were handed into a room called ‘the war office’ at South Yorkshire Police headquarters, an inquest jury heard.

Former police inspector Philip Woodward told the new Hillsborough inquests he didn’t know why the room was called that, during questioning from Mark George QC on behalf of some of the bereaved families.

Mr George asked Mr Woodward: “Does this reflect the mindset of officers in the South Yorkshire Police 11 days after the disaster, that they are formulating a War Office?

“Didn’t Winston Churchill have one of those when we were fighting the Nazis?”

The court also heard from Timothy Mitchell, a current South Yorkshire Police inspector but a PC in 1989.

He was on patrol in Rotherham when he was told to go to Hillsborough.

He said: “My general opinion is that this was probably a poorly planned, poorly led operation.”

Insp Mitchell said when he arrived there was ‘chaos and confusion’.

He said: “The entirely unexpected scene was that of a number of bodies in the courtyard behind the Leppings Lane stand.

“There were a number of bodies, around six bodies, with clothing that appeared to be wrapped around their head. A number of fans who I could only describe as walking wounded, very distressed, very abusive towards us upon our arrival, and just really a scene of chaos.”

He said that his inspector had to get hold of a senior officer and ask for instructions.

They were told to remove the bodies and take them to ambulances on Leppings Lane.

Insp Mitchell agreed no effort was being made to resuscitate any of the bodies on the inner concourse.