The match commander at the Hillsborough disaster has admitted making a ‘mistake’ in not finding out how many fans were trying to get into the ground ahead of kick-off.
David Duckenfield said today he did not know there were still 7,000 fans trying to get into the Leppings Lane end of the ground 45 minutes before the 3pm kick-off and 5,700 still outside at 2.30pm.
Giving evidence for the second day at the new inquests into the deaths of 96 fans, Mr Duckenfield said he would have taken action to ask for kick-off to be delayed if he had been aware of the numbers outside.
He said: “I would have taken action to restrict the fans entering the outer perimeter gates and ensuring that the flow rate through those outer perimeter gates was restricted and controlled.
“I would have informed the club. I would have also informed the referee that we had a difficulty arising, and that on the evidence that I had available, we should consider delaying the kick off.”
Christina Lambert QC, counsel for the inquests, said it might be suggested that at 2.30pm Mr Duckenfield should have taken steps to find out how many fans were still to come in.
He said: “That is correct ma’am. It is with regret I didn’t.”
Mr Duckenfield agreed it had been a ‘mistake’ not to ask that question.
He told the hearing earlier this morning that he had given a briefing to senior officers prior to the match which said the game should be a ‘wonderful occasion’ for both Liverpool and Nottingham Forest fans.
Asked what message he wanted to convey to officers about the supporters, he said: “They were to come along and enjoy themselves, and we, the police service, were to ensure that they had a good day out, for want of a better word, that we assisted them to get into the ground and out of it, and we were to do everything we could possibly to make their day a special one.
“We were to be tolerant, understanding of their enthusiasm, and to treat them with respect, and to put ourselves forward as a professional and caring organisation.”
The hearings continue.