Inquests into the deaths of 96 victims of Hillsborough disaster

New inquests into 96 deaths at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have resumed.

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Hillsborough inquests see original account from witness

Inspector Brian Huckstepp was a constable in 1989, tasked with policing the area outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles at Hillsborough.

The court was shown a passage of Mr Huckstepp's original account of events at Hillsborough which was later removed. It read:

Mr Huckstepp's original account Credit: Hillsborough Inquests

"Throughout the incident both outside and inside the ground there seemed to be communication problems. It seemed that many didn't know what was going on or what was the best course of action. The crush outside the ground could possibly have been better controlled with more police officers and a better regulation of the glow of fans up to the turnstiles. At the time when the crush reached its height our particular serial [group of officers] seemed to be down to a quarter strength of what it should have been. "I believe that opening the outer gates was a very necessary decision as the situation was becoming out of hand and a serious risk of injury. Knowing the Hillsborough ground as I do and how the Leppings Lane end fills up it might possibly have been better to direct the fans coming in through the open gates into the flank areas, which I saw were by no means full."

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The witness said he was content with the removal and signed the amended version without pressure. He later discovered his claims about the strength of his serial were inaccurate.

He said: "I put my initial account in on the understanding that the organisation wanted to know what had happened on the day. It was put in opinions, how you felt about things, all the kind of things that I wouldn't normally have put in a criminal justice statement. And then I understood that the process on from that, that then those accounts would now be required for a legal process with the Taylor Inquiry and that they needed to be put into a position that they then became factual accounts as opposed to accounts that included opinion."

Mr Huckstepp, who was a young officer with two years' experience in 1989, agreed that while parts of the removed section were expressions of opinion, others were observations of fact on the day.

Pete Weatherby QC, representing 22 of the bereaved families, put it to him that the deletion came about because there were aspects which were "embarrassing or difficult for South Yorkshire Police."

He replied: "Whether that was the case or not, that was not the reason that was given to me and that’s not the reason I agreed to it being removed."

Mr Weatherby continued: "You put it in because that’s what you had observed or that was your truth. You didn’t take it out because it wasn't the truth, did you?"

"No," he responded. "I was happy to put it in at the time and I’m happy that it’s still in."

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Hillsborough witness saw fans "running into the crowd"

A Sheffield woman has told the Hillsborough Inquests that she saw two groups of fans running into the crowd outside the turnstiles on the day of the disaster.

The fresh inquests into the 96 men, women and children who died at Sheffield Wednesday's football ground in 1989 have been hearing more evidence from people who lived and worked in the area on the day.

Emma Lee, who was aged 15 at the time, said she saw two groups arrive from different directions.

"That’s when they were running and pushing into the backs of each other and trying to crawl between each other," she said.

The witness was asked if any were under the influence of drink.

She replied: "There were some that were staggering and some holding each other up and that was the only indication that I would say. The ones I noticed like that were the ones that were joining the back of the crowd. Anybody in the crowd, I couldn't say."

She told the jury she went into a friend's back garden which was overlooked by the back of the stadium.

She said: "There was two gentlemen urinating off the back of the stand and then another gentleman appeared and began to shout into the back garden that people were getting crushed."

Miss Lee explained how she and her friend helped a succession of fans by phoning their families to let them know they were safe.

Two pub landlords told the court how hundreds of Liverpool fans had been drinking at their pubs but caused no trouble.

Peter Buck, landlord of the Fox Inn at the time, said the crowd was "just happy because it was a nice day."

The court heard usual lunchtime beer sales were about 200 pints, but on the day of the disaster Mr Buck sold 768 pints.

He said he did not see any of the fans worse for drink when they left.

Rita Beal, who ran the Silver Fox in 1989, said the atmosphere there was "very good".

She said: "There was a lot of families there. It wasn't just male fans.... They were very chatty. Very friendly."


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Duckenfield barrister accuses witness of being "delusional"

A barrister, representing match commander David Duckenfield, later accused the witness of being delusional.

The jury learned that Frank Brayford left the police because of psychological difficulty and an operation on his knee.

However, he said it was not true that he was "slightly delusional" about his importance in certain events.

The court was shown a letter from 1992 from a doctor describing his mood varying "from one of depression to extreme hatred and aggression."

John Beggs QC said: "What I am, I am afraid, having to suggest to you, is that that extreme hatred is directed particularly at David Duckenfield, isn't it?"

He replied: "Extreme hatred is a little strong. I don't hate the man but I am not very pleased at him. If he'd done to you what he'd done to me, you wouldn't like him either, Mr Beggs."

Referring to the allegations of inappropriate behaviour with a female colleague, the witness denied misbehaving on duty in a sexual fashion.

Mr Beggs suggested: "Your supervisors decide that, because you have compromised yourself as a senior officer, you will be transferred and you vindictively have held that against Duckenfield and Marshall for years and years. This case provided you with a rather unedifying opportunity to have a go at them. It is just pure spite on your part?"

He replied: "I'm sorry, I can't say I'm a big fan of his, I’m not. But I'm not having a go at him. Why would I wait until now to have a go at him?"

The lawyer asked him more about the report he said he wrote in 1989.

The witness said: "It was basically observations where I weren't happy. I weren’t happy with what I was finding out, what was coming back to me. It was annoyance. I didn't like it. It was sinister I thought."

He added that he purposefully did not keep a copy of the report.

Mr Beggs suggested: "The report didn’t exist ever, did it?"

He replied: "That is a lie. If that is what you believe, you believe it. I am telling the truth. I have come here. It has not been easy. I have come here and I assure you and all the rest of the court, I am telling the truth."

The witness agreed he had completed a witness statement earlier this year without any document to refresh his memory.

He said: "Maybe I am an exceptional person because I remembered, and what I've said is the truth... This is a very, very important subject."

Mr Beggs suggested: "You were an embittered police officer and you were pensioned off due to your psychological condition."

Mr Brayford replied: "Yes, I am an embittered officer, I was. I didn't want to be pensioned off. They pensioned me off."

Chris Daw QC, representing two retired chief superintendents from South Yorkshire Police involved in gathering of evidence from officers, asked what "sinister activities" he thought had taken place within South Yorkshire Police.

He agreed that he was told there was a team within the force dealing with officers statements, that there were instructions not to make notebook entries and that officers should make their reports on plain paper.

Mr Daw asked him: "If your report concerned sinister activities in South Yorkshire Police why on earth would you have submitted it to an inquiry team in South Yorkshire Police?"

He responded: "Because I thought it would have stirred sufficient interest for somebody to come along and ask me or explain or give me a chance to make my statement."

Mr Daw continued: "If you wanted to get it away from South Yorkshire Police it would have been very straightforward, would it, to give it to a West Midlands officer?"

He replied: "I tried that."

The witness agreed he was not privy to any legal advice given to the force or the meeting where the policies had been discussed.

Mr Brayford agreed with Paul Greaney QC, representing the Police Federation, that he suffered two short periods of depression 17 years apart and "felt better" as soon as he left South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Greaney asked him: "Have you ever suffered from any mental illness that might have any impact on your ability to give an accurate account of what you experienced in 1989?"

"No, I haven’t," he replied.

The court heard that Mr Brayford's affair was reported in local newspapers.

Mr Greaney asked him: "Who do you believe it was that leaked that information to the press so that you could be smeared?"

He replied: "I believe that that was the Assistant Chief Constable Stewart Anderson did that. I’m sure of it. Together with Mr Duckenfield, his mates."

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Hillsborough witness tells inquests of "overcrowding" at previous games

The Hillsborough inquests have heard claims of overcrowding at previous games at the stadium in the 1980s.

Kevin Monks, a sports journalist, told the jury about a number of games when he visited the Sheffield Wednesday ground as a Coventry City supporter.

Speaking via videolink, the fan said that on one occasion he had to cling on to a fence "for dear life".

Mr Monks described watching the 1987 FA Cup quarter final between his team and Sheffield Wednesday from pen three on the West Terrace.

He said: "I went straight down the tunnel where the dividing fence was and I stood halfway down that fence and I put my feet in the railings I wedged my feet in the railings and stood and watched the game with a side on view."

Asked why, he replied: "Because of the numbers, the amount of people on the terrace. I actually thought it would be the safest thing, to try and get out of the way a bit. There was nowhere for me to go so I decided that at least I would be safe if I put my feet in the railing and stayed in that one position for the whole game."

The witness said the pen was "absolutely packed" when he arrived 15 minutes before the game and became more crowded towards kick off. He said he was unable to move and could see people being pushed into crush barriers.

Mr Monks added that he saw 20 to 30 people being dragged up into the seated area above.

He told the court: "Normally, [at] Coventry games people tend to get rather excited but people were quite restrained in their goal celebrations because they were either pressed up against crush barriers or didn't want to fall down and disappear into a mass of bodies.... A few people went down and people were sort of dragging them back up."

Mr Monks said he received bruising on his chest and back but did not seek medical attention.

He did not report his experience to Sheffield Wednesday, the FA or police.

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Hillsborough match planner "was transferred" before disaster

Frank Brayford arriving at the inquests. Credit: ITV News

A senior police officer has claimed he was told to "stop putting reports in about Hillsborough".

The fresh inquests into the 1989 disaster heard that Frank Brayford, a chief inspector at the time, had been involved in planning the policing of the match but had been transferred weeks before and did not attend on the day.

The witness said he wrote a short report about matters he thought were relevant and addressed it for the care of the enquiry team at headquarters.

"Who got that report, I have no idea, but it was never answered. I never got a reply," he said.

Mr Brayford said he then rang Chief Superintendent Brian Mole, who had commanded previous semi-finals at the ground and who, he said, made the skeleton operational order with him in 1989.

He claimed Mr Mole told him: "Shut up. Stop talking about it. It’s not in your interests to get involved in this... I'm not doing this to protect Duckenfield and co. I am trying to protect the good name for the South Yorkshire Police and, if it means being loyal to the chief constable, then so be it."

Mr Brayford said he then took a copy to his divisional commander but claimed he was told by a superintendent to "stop putting reports in about Hillsborough."

The next day, he said, he received a visit from a man who purported to be from West Midlands Police, the police force which investigated the disaster from 1989.

He told the court: "I thought they had come to take a statement from me. Do you know what he said? ‘Stop putting reports in about Hillsborough. You will never give evidence to Lord Justice Taylor.’ I was just gobsmacked."

Jeremy Johnson QC, representing West Midlands Police, asked the witness: "If you had considered that somebody was trying to suppress evidence about the disaster it was your duty as a police officer, wasn't it, to do something about it?"

He replied: "You're dead right, Mr Johnson, it was. I think, from what evidence I've already given this morning, I tried."

Mr Brayford told Fiona Barton QC, representing South Yorkshire Police, that he did not write to either the Police Complaints Authority or the Home Office, nor did he go directly to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry to discuss his concerns.

Ms Barton quizzed him: "The reason you did not Mr Brayford, I put it simply, is that this account about the concealment of your reports is a complete fabrication and those reports were never written, were they?"

He replied: "I am not lying today and I weren't lying when I wrote that statement ma'am. I have come here to tell the truth.

"I did speak to two MPs about it but the answers weren't satisfactory. They didn't throw any light on it at all.

"I know I've no chance here this morning telling you this. People that’s concerned are not going to change their evidence. I don’t want them to. They cant. They’ll go straight to prison. But that doesn't mean that its not true."

Hammerton Road police station. Credit: ITV News

Earlier, the jury heard that Frank Brayford phoned Mr Mole's replacement, Superintendent David Duckenfield, in the week before his superior left.

He said he wanted to invite the new match commander in to help him.

Mr Brayford said Mr Duckenfield replied: "Look Frank, I've got a crown on my shoulder. And when I've got a crown and a pip then I’ll be a Chief Superintendent. Then I’ll come into your police station and not before."

The witness said he tried to explain that Mr Duckenfield would be in charge of 1,100 police officers on the day but said he put the phone down on him.

He contradicted evidence from other witnesses who had suggested Mr Duckenfield was present at a planning meeting for the game on the Wednesday after the ground was selected.

Mr Brayford told the jury: "I'm not mistaken... He was not there."

The court heard that Mr Brayford was tipped off about his own transfer out of F Division, where the ground is based, by a junior of Mr Duckenfield.

The witness said he was told he was being moved because he had usurped the authority of his superior, Superintendent Roger Marshall.

However, the jury heard claims that the real reason was because of inappropriate behaviour with a female colleague.

The witness said he had met Mr Duckenfield only twice before.

He added: "He once approached me... There was something very different about the way he shook my hand. I said I recognised it. It was a masonic handshake."

When David Duckenfield arrived to start work at Hammerton Road police station, Mr Brayford said he was "very cold."

He claimed that, after two days, he asked Mr Duckenfield when he could tell him about the plans for the match.

He said Mr Duckenfield had replied that he had plenty of time and that his first priority was to get to know other people in the division.

The witness also told the court that Superintendent Marshall, who was responsible for the Liverpool sector on the day of the 1989 semi-final, was not happy in large crowds and was only given low-key matches.

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquests, asked: "How does that square with the fact that he was given the job of sector one ground commander in 1988?"

He replied: "I don't know. In 1988 he had not been there that long I don't think…. I didn't see any problem with what they did in 1988 when I was there."

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