Three factors led to Hillsborough ‘danger’

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Miscalculating the safe crowd capacity, failure to monitor the number of people in pens and the build-up of spectators at turnstiles all led to danger for the supporters at Hillsborough, the new inquests heard.

Mr Mansfield put what he called ‘three short propositions’ to stadium expert John Cutlack, a structural engineer, at the hearing in Warrington.

Mr Cutlack has been instructed by the coroner, Lord Justice Goldring, to give his expert opinion following weeks of evidence from witnesses from Sheffield Wednesday, fire, police and the local authority, responsible for safety on the day.

First Mr Cutlack agreed with the lawyer, that there had been a ‘substantial’ miscalculation of the capacity of the Leppings Lane terrace.

The jury has heard the maximum safe number of fans should have been 5,426 - but the safety certificate allowed for 7,200.

The witness also agreed with Mr Mansfield there was also a failure to rectify, or lower, the capacity limits in the decade before the disaster on April 15, 1989, when Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough.

Mr Mansfield then asked Mr Cutlack whether there was a failure to put in place a system, either structural, mechanical or by human means of simple counting, so the numbers of spectators going into the separate pens on the Leppings Lane terrace could be monitored.

Mr Cutlack replied: “Yes, I think I would agree with that.”

Finally Mr Mansfield asked if there had been a failure to prevent a build-up of fans on the approaches to the turnstiles outside, as thousands of supporters descended.

Mr Cutlack replied: “I think the turnstile configuration in 1989 was insufficient because there were too few turnstiles for the way the ground was used on the day.

I think there were better arrangements that could have been put in place.”

In total 10,100 Liverpool fans had tickets for seven turnstiles -1,443 per turnstile - far more than outlined in the safety guide.