Surge at Leppings Lane was ‘like a tidal wave’ Hillsborough inquest hears

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A former police officer has told the Hillsborough inquests the weight of the crowd surging through the turnstiles at the 1989 FA cup semi final was ‘like a tidal wave’.

Robert Purdy, who was an inspector in 1989, was in charge of officers on the Leppings Lane turnstiles on the day of the tragedy.

Mr Purdy said there had been no discussions with colleagues about forming cordons further up Leppings Lane to control the flow of people, but agreed it was a ‘reasonable suggestion’.

He said from 2.30pm the crowd began to build up and the flow of people through the turnstiles slowed because of the pressure.

“It was like a tide sweeping in,” he said.

Some people were trapped and distressed and wanted to get out of the area, but others wanted to hold their position and were desperate to get into the ground.

Mr Purdy said: “You’d also, of course, got a massive pressure from the rear, pushing down on those people who were at the front. 
“So you’d got people being crushed towards the front by those at the back.”

Mr Purdy said there was no violence or fighting but there was boisterous behaviour and people shouting.

“Gone was the carnival atmosphere and there was a near desperation of people who wanted to get into that ground obviously to see the start of the game,” he said.

Mr Purdy said the weight of people moving forward was “like a tidal wave”.

He spoke to Supt Marshall and was told to open perimeter Gate C to alleviate the pressure.

At the same time Mr Purdy gave the order to open the gate, it was opened to eject a fan and dozens of supporters surged through it.