10 Mar 2015

Hillsborough inquests: the key moments so far

David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge when 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough, says he “was probably not the best man for the job”. Here are the other key moments from the inquests.

David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge when 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough, says he

Following the release in 2012 of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, verdicts of accidental death from the original Hillsborough inquest in 1991 were quashed – and new inquests were ordered.

Hillsborough inquest: police chief gives evidence. Read Alex Thomson's blog.


As the inquests begin on 31 March 2014 into Britain’s worst sporting tragedy, Margaret Aspinall, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, says she hopes this is the “beginning of the end”.

Families of those who lost their lives on 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield – scene of the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest – pay their tributes at the inquests in Warrington, Cheshire.

One of the 96 was 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, a cousin of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and the youngest person to die at Hillsborough.

‘King Kenny’

Former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish gives emotional testimony, describing the “mayhem” inside the stadium during the disaster.

He says he was asked to go to the police control box on the day of the match to make an announcement to fans, but the public address system was not working, so he went to the DJ’s room instead.


John Cutlack, the inquests’ structural engineer, says there were more than twice as many fans inside one of the pens (three) as was safe.

The jury watches a 32-minute video of what happened that day, showing the build-up of fans outside the turnstiles and in pens three and four at Leppings Lane. It is also shown footage from Hillsborough in 1981, when a crush led to Spurs fans clambering over barriers.

Thirty-eight fans were reportedly injured when Spurs supporters spilled on to the perimeter track at the Leppings Lane end of the ground and others climbed fences shortly after the start of the 1981 FA Cup semi-final against Wolves.

David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge when 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough, says he

Dr Niall Wilson, a medical student in 1989 and a Liverpool fan, says he saw a police officer opening gate C to relieve congestion outside the ground. “I was absolutely certain then on the way back, when we had heard the radio telling us that the Liverpool fans had stormed the gate, that I knew for a fact that the police had lied about that.”

The jury hears that almost a third of the 96 Liverpool fans who died entered the stadium through gate C after it had been opened.

Loss of control

Former superintendent Roger Marshall, who called for the exit gates to be opened so fans could enter the stadium. says officers “lost control completely” and he regretted not asking for kick-off to be delayed.

John Morgan, a police sergeant on the day of the disaster, says if a big gate had not been opened to relieve the crush at the turnstiles, “we would have been dealing with bodies outside the ground”.

He adds: “I froze. In fact I was gobsmacked. It was an alarming situation. I thought people were going to die. There was imminent danger.”

Albert Page, former chief ambulance officer for South Yorkshire, says there were “dozens and dozens” of police, including senior officers, who should have declared a major incident. A major incident was declared at 3.22, 16 minutes after the match had been abandoned, which Mr Page says was “too long a delay”.

Paul Eason, a senior ambulance officer and the “eyes and ears” of the service at the ground, says his “big mistake” was initially assuming there was a public order problem, rather than fans being crushed.

Former superintendent Roger Greenwood says when he stopped the match shortly after kick-off, he had thought it was only a seven out of ten emergency.

Police statements ‘altered’

John Morgan says his original statement about what happened, which said “there did not appear to be any sort of organised police effort”, had subsequently been “sanitised”.

Adrian Daley, a police constable working at Hillsborough, says he was asked to alter parts of his statement by senior officers.

How much have you had to drink?

Several fans tell the inquests they were questioned about how much they had drunk on the day of the disaster.

Anthony Barnbrock, who was at the match with his father and brother Stephen and helped victims of the crush, says he was asked by a police officer what they had drunk. He explained, over and over again, that Stephen was just 13.

David Frost, a police constable, says Liverpool fans had a “pretty dim reputation” at the time. “You were facing big, fit-looking men… there was an overriding smell of alcohol.”

David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge when 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough, says he

Former Police Federation official Paul Middup is asked about his comment in 1989 that Liverpool fans were a “mob” who had been “tanked up”. He says that is what he had been told by his members. He denies he was acting as a “mouthpiece” for the then chief constable Peter Wright.

Trevor Hicks, whose daughters died at Hillsborough, says he was sworn at by police officers and asked how much he had drunk.

The Sun

The Sun has apologised for its coverage of the tragedy, which was critical of Liverpool fans.

Former Police Federation official Paul Middup is asked about a notorious story in the Sun that Liverpool supporters had urinated on dead bodies. He says he was told this by a police officer.

Former police inspector Gordon Sykes, who said in 1989 that a Hillsborough victim had been found with “numerous” wallets – a claim repeated by the Sun – says a mistake was made.


Tony Ensor, a Liverpool director who had a meeting with Mr Duckenfield at Hillsborough at the time, says he blamed the fans for what happened.

Former inspector Clive Davis says then chief superintendent Terry Wain told his officers in 1989: “‘We are going to put the blame for this disaster where it belongs – on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans.” During cross-examination, Mr Davis is accused of telling “bare-faced lies”, but he denies this.

In a statement, the FA’s former head of external affairs, Glen Kirton, says Mr Duckenfield “told us that a gate had been forced and there had been an in-rush of Liverpool supporters that had caused casualties”.

Liverpool supporter Ian Devine says he saw police pushing fans back into pens they were trying to escape from.

Paul Burman, a sergeant on duty that day, says “the actions of the Liverpool fans” stopped the police from doing their job.