Senior Hillsborough officer claims fans forced entry showing ‘no restraint’

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A former senior police officer on duty at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster has described the fans trying to get into the ground as an ‘army which could not be stopped’.

Roger Marshall, a superintendent working on the day 96 Liverpool fans died, said at the inquest in Warrington that the crowd was determined to get in and showed ‘no restraint whatsoever.’

Mr Marshall said that many fans behaved ‘very, very well’ but said alcohol was a factor in the crowd’s deterioration.

He added: “The crowd as a whole was determined to get into the ground and showed no restraint whatsoever, even when it was obvious that people in front were in distress.

“I realised that it was not the sort of crowd advance that we see regularly when there is a pitch invasion or a confrontation between two rival groups but it was the advance of an army which could not be stopped.”

Earlier Mr Marshall claimed that he did not know about a police commander’s ‘wicked lie’ that Liverpool fans had forced entry into the ground.

He agreed a false claim by David Duckenfield - the officer in charge of policing the match, who said supporters had forced open Gate C - was a ‘wicked thing to say’.

The jury has heard it was Mr Duckenfield himself who gave the order to open the gate, following a request from Mr Marshall who feared there could be deaths outside the ground.

It led fans into the already packed central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, causing the crush which killed 96 people.

The jury was shown video footage of Mr Marshall in the police control box at 4.42pm on the day of the tragedy.

He confirmed to the court that he was with Mr Duckenfield in the control box after the match and at a police HQ debriefing at 5.15pm the same day.

Mr Marshall said the first he knew of Mr Duckenfield telling the lie about gate C being forced was at the public inquiry into the disaster led by Lord Justice Taylor, which published its last report in 1990.

Peter Wilcock QC suggested Mr Marshall was one of the few people in the ground who knew it was a lie, saying it was ‘simply incredible’ that Mr Marshall saw none of the publicity about Liverpool fans forcing the gate.

Mr Marshall again refused to criticise the actions of his colleagues in the control box.

Mr Wilcock suggested that because Mr Marshall refused to criticise any fellow officers, he had no option but to blame fans for the disaster.

He pointed out that in Mr Marshall’s first account to the court, there was no criticism of the way that events were policed.

But in his evidence to the Taylor Inquiry, the previous inquests, and in interviews he was not evasive about any failings.

The inquest continues.