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Hillsborough officer denies 'cover-up' after disaster

The officer in charge of policing at Hillsborough has denied being part of a cover-up after the disaster.

Cross-examined by Rajiv Menon QC on behalf of the victim's families, David Duckenfield told the inquest that he had made a 'mistake' but denied being 'negligent' and causing the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.

ITV News reporter Damon Green reports.

Offers of help in run up to Hillsborough 'were not made'

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield disputed claims that he turned down offers of advice from other senior officers in the run up to the fateful FA Cup semi-final. .

Barrister for victims' families, Rajiv Menon QCasked him: "Why are you turning down offers of help from experienced officers who could have advised you in preparing and planning and could have assisted you on the day itself?"

"Those offers were not made to me," Mr Duckenfield replied.

Previously, Mr Menon put to him: "Are you going so far to say that the disaster and deaths of 96 Liverpool fans could have been avoided if a better man for the job, to use your phrase, had been in charge?"

"Sir, that's a question I cannot answer," Duckenfield replied.

ITV Granada reporter Andy Bonner is at the inquest:

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Duckenfield: 'I was Freemason'

Further questioning of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield revealed that he had been a Freemason at the time of the 1989 tragedy.

Duckenfield joined the Freemasons in 1975, had been part of the organisation for 14 years at the time of the Hillsborough disaster, becoming a Worshipful Master of his local lodge a year later, he told the court.

He said he did not know whether the chief constable of his force or other senior officers were masons because it was not seen as "acceptable" to be a senior policeman and a Freemason.

Rajiv Menon QC asked if his promotion to chief superintendent in March 1989, shortly before the match, was anything to do with his membership of the masons.

Mr Duckenfield replied: "I would not know but I would hope not. Nobody ever spoke to me about it."

ITV Granada reporter Andy Bonner is at the inquest:

Duckenfield "came clean" to Chief Constable

David Duckenfield outside court Credit: ITV News

Hillsborough police officer David Duckenfield told jurors he "came clean" to a Chief Constable about giving the order to open the gate at about 4pm on the day of the disaster.

He admitted that he "lied by omission" while in a boardroom in the presence of directors from Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool when he didn't mention that he had authorised the gate to be opened.

After leaving the ground and travelling to South Yorkshire Police headquarters on the evening of April 15, 1989, Mr Duckenfield said he was summoned to brief Chief Constable Peter Wright.

Rajiv Menon QC asked Mr Duckenfield how the chief constable had reacted when he was informed that the head of the Football Association had been lied to.

Mr Duckenfield replied: "Sir, I think the best answer to that is that he was very unhappy overall."

He was sat behind his desk and he wasn't best pleased about the events.

I just remember having related my story to him and being dismissed like a schoolboy out of the headmaster's office.

– David Duckenfield

Duckenfield claims PTSD affected his memory

Former South Yorkshire Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield said that his memory of the events have "faded" with his age and as a result of traumatic stress.

But Rajiv Menon QC challenged his claim saying: "When you want to assert something, your memory is fine."

Duckenfield replied: "This is one of the strange realities of PTSD."

ITV Granada reporter Andy Bonner is at the inquest:

Earlier he told the Warrington inquest that he was so traumatised he shouldn't have given evidence to the Taylor inquiry in 1989 but was "too proud" not to.

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  1. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Hillsborough police chief blames his inexperience

The match commander during the Hillsborough disaster said that his failure to foresee where fans would go after the gate was open was due to inexperience and lack of knowledge.

Representing 75 of the bereaved families, Rajiv Menon said: "Do you admit these mistakes led to overcrowding, crushing, injury and death in the central pens?"

Duckenfield replied: "26 years in and with hindsight, the mistakes I made that day were a contributory factor."

I did not foresee the consequence of my actions. It was not obvious to me.

I can see that a competent match commander could have, but I did not foresee those consequences.

– David Duckenfield

Pressing Duckenfield, Menon asked several times if Duckenfield believes he was competent.

Finally the former officer agreed with the coroner Mr Justice Goldring that he 'did not act as a reasonably competent match commander.'

But he denied an accusation of negligence from the families' QC - saying he describes his failures as "mistake" or "oversight".

  1. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Duckenfield: 'I make no excuses, I don't ask for pity or sympathy'

David Duckenfield Credit: PA Wire

The Hillsborough police chief who admitted he lied about his part in the disaster during an inquest said today he does not ask for "pity or sympathy".

Cross examined by Rajiv Menon QC on behalf of the victim's families, he said he was "traumatised" when he gave evidence to the Taylor inquiry in 1989 - where he denied making any wrong decisions on the day of the disaster.

Menon asked: "Do you think the jury should judge your actions by the standards of an incompetent and inexperienced match commander?"

The former Chief Superintendent replied: "All I can say is: I did my best. My view is: if my best wasn't good enough, I apologise."

Police officer apologises for Hillsborough gate order

A police officer in charge on the day of the Hillsborough disaster has admitted he lied about the fact he gave the order for the exit gate to be opened.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield had told FA chief executive Graham Kelly and others fans had forced open the gate.

Today he confessed it had been a terrible lie and that he had given the order to open the gate.

Mr Dukenfield told an inquest, attended by relatives of the victims, into the disaster: "I apologise unreservedly to the families and I hope they believe it is a very, very sincere apology".

Damon Green, ITV News North of England Correspondent, reports:

Hillsborough officer admits lying to FA chief executive

David Duckenfield (left) has admitted he lied to FA chief executive Graham Kelly (right). Credit: PA Wire

The police chief in charge of crowd control on the day of the Hillsborough disaster has admitted lying to former FA chief executive Graham Kelly about the opening of the gate at the ground and apologised unreservedly to the victims' families.

The jury in the inquest into the 1989 disaster earlier heard evidence from Kelly, who said match commander David Duckenfield told him the gate to the ground had been forced by Liverpool FC fans.

Today giving evidence at the inquest, Duckenfield admitted he had lied to Kelly.

Christina Lambert, counsel to the inquests, asked Duckenfield: "Do you consider now that you told Graham Kelly and others something that was not true?"

"Yes ma'am", he replied.

"Do you consider that you told them a lie?", she continued.

"Yes ma'am", Duckenfield replied.

He added: "That was a terrible lie. Everyone knew the truth. The fans knew we opened the gates. The officers knew we opened the gates."

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