Liverpool fans ‘played a part’ in the Hillsborough disaster taking place, match commander David Duckenfield has said.
Giving evidence for the third day to the inquests into the deaths of 96 fans, Mr Duckenfield said he did not have first hand evidence there were ‘drunk and ticketless fans’ at the game.
But he added the ‘late arrival’ of supporters had contributed to the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final.
Under questioning from Rajiv Menon QC, who is representing 75 of the victims’ families, Mr Duckenfield accepted his lawyers have been advancing a case that drunk, ticketless and late Liverpool fans contributed to the disaster.
He said: “In my position in the control box, I cannot say from first hand evidence that drunken and ticketless fans attended at the stadium.
“What I can say is I have heard various stories and I have picked up things as things have gone along, but my first hand experience is, I did not see any drunken ticketless fans.”
He added: “I am of the view that many people on that day contributed to the disaster and I hold the view that football fans played a part.
“The late arriving of fans would contribute by overwhelming the police resources and the turnstiles.”
Mr Menon asked what evidence Mr Duckenfield had of supporters misbehaving.
He said: “I have seen clips of video where I think fans are being unreasonable and pushing.”
Earlier in this morning’s hearing, Mr Duckenfield was asked why he had taken almost 26 years to admit to a number of mistakes in how the match was policed.
Mr Menon said: “On Tuesday and Wednesday in his court, you admitted a number of critical mistakes whilst in command of the police commission of the worst stadium disaster in British football history.
“Why has it taken you nearly 26 years to come clean and admit, at long last, that you made critical mistakes, that contributed to the disaster and the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans who died?”
Mr Duckenfield said he ‘was possibly in denial’ about what had happened.
He said: “I ask for no pity, I ask for no sympathy, because my difficulties do not compare with those of the families.
“But I was possibly in denial and I never found a venue or an opportunity where I could meet with someone and speak to them honestly and openly and ensure that my thought and my feelings would be reported fairly, and yesterday this court gave me the opportunity to sit here and apologise fully for the first time without fear of anybody misrepresenting what I was saying.”
Mr Menon said: “If the families, many of whom are in court today, and their supporters had not wage a courageous and unrelenting campaign that culminated in the High Court in 2012 quashing the determinations made at the original inquests before Dr Popper and ordering these new inquest, you would never have made the public admissions under oath that you made this week.”
The hearing continues.