Hillsborough match commander ‘told FA boss fans had forced open gate’

Graham Kelly
Graham Kelly
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The match commander at the Hillsborough disaster told the head of the Football Association a gate to the ground had been forced open by Liverpool fans, a court heard.

Evidence from former FA chief Graham Kelly was read yesterday to the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in 1989.

Mr Kelly said he had been told by match commander David Duckenfield that supporters had forced open the gate, contributing to the crush on the terraces.

He said he had gone to the police control box after the game had been stopped shortly after kick-off.

He said: “I said ‘What has happened?’ and Mr Duckenfield said ‘The Liverpool fans have forced a gate’ and my attention was drawn either by him or one of his officers to the screen above me.”

He said there was a picture on the screen which appeared to be of the gate which had been forced.

Mr Kelly said a police officer told him: “That is the gate, it has been forced, there has been an inrush.”

That afternoon Mr Kelly did an interview on Radio Two.

A transcript of the interview was read to the court.

Mr Kelly said: “I can’t tell you precisely what has happened.

“I have been in the police control box and they tell me that a gate, or gates, was opened or broken and fans came in.

“There were too many fans in the area, obviously, and they spilled over and, well, you probably saw what happened better than I did.”

He was asked about reports the gate had been opened on police instruction and said: “Well, I have only spoken very briefly to the police commander and that wasn’t the impression that I got.”

He said they would have to speak to the police to confirm that.

But, in evidence to the Taylor Inquiry, Mr Kelly said: “I told the media that - and I believe this was live television and live radio - I told the media that there were two versions of what had happened, one was that a gate had been forced and another was that a gate had been opened to let in the Liverpool supporters, and I said I did not know which, if either, was the true version of events but both were being promulgated at the time I spoke to the media, which was about 4.40pm.”

The court has previously heard the police had decided to open the gate.