One of the most senior officers working at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster said the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans was a ‘tragedy’ for the police at the match as well as bereaved families.
Former superintendent Roger Marshall, in charge of policing the turnstiles outside Leppings Lane, told the jury at the inquest in Warrington: “The outcome was tragic for everyone - not just the fans who lost their lives, which was awful, but also the families of those people. It’s tragic for every police officer. Its a tragedy that affected us all.”
The jury has heard Mr Marshall is the officer who asked for the exit gates to be opened 13 minutes before the kick-off of the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989.
Peter Wilcock QC, representing 75 of the bereaved families, asked him ‘whether in your mind is the thought that if you hadn’t asked for the gates to be opened then 96 people wouldn’t have died’.
Mr Marshall said: “Yes, I think that’s true.”
Earlier, he had told the court he regretted not asking for the 3pm kick-off to be delayed.
Mr Marshall insisted some of those in the crowd were not complying with instructions because they had drunk too much and there was pushing in the mass of people waiting to get through the turnstiles.
When asked about drinking by fans before the game, Mr Marshall said he thought some fans had had too much to drink and that ‘coloured their judgment’.
He said he hated using the word blame and said he was horrified by media reports of earlier proceedings which, he said, indicated he had blamed the fans.
“I don’t ever recall using the word blame at all,” he said.
He added: “I think I take a moderate view in the sense that I’ve talked about a substantial minority whose temper and willingness to accept reasonable suggestions was clouded by the fact they’d had two or three pints too many perhaps.
“I think that some of the fans, not all of the fans, have a responsibility for what occurred and the situation that arose under my command.”
The inquest continues.