Expert tells of safety risk

The Hillsborough tragedy unfolds.
The Hillsborough tragedy unfolds.
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Those involved in stadium safety at Hillsborough should have identified areas of risk, a stadium expert told the new inquests into the 96 deaths.

Structural engineer John Cutlack, who has more than 34 years’ experience and has designed stands at Newcastle United and Arsenal, was asked about the risk of crushing after the jury looked at a list of British stadia incidents.

Michael Mansfield QC, who represents a group of the Hillsborough families, said that between 1923 and 1989, when Lord Justice Taylor reported on Hillsborough, there were eight reports on crowd control and safety in Britain.

Questioning Mr Cutlack on day 20 of the inquests, Mr Mansfield said: “Those who were concerned with safety therefore at football stadia throughout this period should have been aware of that risk, shouldn’t they?”

Mr Cutlack replied: “I would think that anybody who was involved in football stadia, who was following what was happening, should certainly have been aware of it.”

Mr Mansfield said: “The risk of crushing should have been known not just to those who follow stadium safety, but those who become involved in stadium safety, even if they haven’t followed it before?”

Mr Cutlack replied: “I think if you are in a position of being involved in stadium safety then you have a duty to find out about what that entails and, therefore, you would be expected to identify what those areas of risk are.”

Earlier, the jury heard the stadium passed its annual ground safety inspection the year before the disaster.

Safety consultants Eastwood and Partners issued a certificate in August 1988, following the inspection.