Prosecutions call over lack of Hillsborough Stadium safety certificate

andrewrn'Hillsborough disaster
andrewrn'Hillsborough disaster
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CALLS have been made for prosecutions over the failure to ensure Hillsborough stadium had a valid safety certificate at the time of the 1989 disaster.

Top barrister Michael Mansfield QC, acting on behalf of families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed, said there was serious negligence.

He said: “There was no safety certificate then. They breached the safety rules, that is the beginning of serious negligence and there is a causational relationship here which the director of public prosecutions will have to look at.

“There’s more than the police here, it’s not just the police.

“Sheffield Wednesday need to answer some questions and the Sheffield authorities too on that score.”

But Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts, city council leader at the time of the disaster, said: “The process surrounding safety certificates was handled by a committee of officers with delegated powers and it was not the responsibility of councillors.”

Concern about the council and Sheffield Wednesday was contained in the interim report of Lord Taylor.

The Taylor report revealed Hillsborough’s safety certificate had been unchanged since 1979 despite several changes to the layout of the stadium in the following decade - rendering the certificate invalid.

Changes included division of the Leppings Lane stand into ‘pens’ after a crush in an FA Cup semi final at the ground in 1981, when there were injuries but no fatalities.

Police wanted the 10,100 capacity of the Leppings Lane terraces to be reduced.

But although changes were made to the layout, the capacity of the new ‘pens’ was not fully calculated.

A crush barrier near the entrance to pens three and four was also removed after a request by police, to ‘assist the flow of fans’.

There were no electronic or mechanical means for counting numbers of fans entering pens.

To remain valid, Hillsborough’s safety certificate should have been changed to specify the maximum number of people allowed into different parts of the ground after layouts were altered.

In his summary, Lord Taylor said: “The performance of the city council of its duties in regard to the safety certificate was inefficient and dilatory.

“The failure to revise or amend the certificate over the period of three years preceding this disaster despite important changes in the layout of the ground, was a serious breach of duty.”