The police commander in charge of the match on the day of the Hillsborough Disaster in Sheffield has admitted: “I wasn’t the best man for the job.”
Retired Chief Supt David Duckenfield was speaking at the inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool FC fans.
Mr Duckenfield, who had only been in the job for three weeks in April 1989, told the new inquests into the tragedy that he had very limited experience of policing big football games.
He said: “Knowing the events of the day, I should have spent the majority of my time as new commander down there. But I did, in the light of the information available, what I considered necessary and if there was a failing then I apologise.”
Mr Duckenfield was the match commander for South Yorkshire Police when Liverpool FC played Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup Semi Final.
The inquests, which are being heard in Warrington, heard Mr Duckenfield had been promoted just three weeks before the semi-final, and the policing of the match was just one of his new responsibilities.
Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, asked Mr Duckenfield if he had spent enough time at Hillsborough Stadium before the match.
He said: “It’s my view that I could command the operation without a detailed knowledge of the ground including every nook and cranny because I was employing experts in their particular field who knew those areas of the ground in detail.”
The inquests heard Mr Duckenfield had very limited experience of policing football matches and a detailed knowledge of the stadium ‘would have been beneficial’.
He said: “With hindsight, I should have thought about my limited knowledge of the role of the commander in a major event that was an all-ticket sellout, when I had not been responsible, or in that responsible position, previously.
“All I would say is this, that after a period of... shall we say, I’m older, hopefully wiser, probably I wasn’t the best man for the job on the day.”
The Hillsborough Disaster resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans and injuries to 766 other people.
It was one of the world’s worst football disasters.