Duckenfield: There was 'no conspiracy' about disaster

David Duckenfield Credit: PA

Andy Bonner - Hillsborough Correspondent

The police match commander at Hillsborough has said he thinks there was no conspiracy about the disaster.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing 75 of the bereaved families, suggested David Duckenfield's lie marked the start of a police cover-up.

Mr Duckenfield yesterday apologised unreservedly to relatives for telling FA boss Graham Kelly wrongly that Liverpool fans got in through a gate.

The witness replied: "I don't think I was involved in any cover-up whatsoever." Mr Menon: "It was the beginning of the creation of a false narrative, a false story about Hillsborough, wasn't it?" Mr Duckenfield: "I disagree."Mr Menon: "A false narrative that sought to blame Liverpool fans for what had happened and concealed the truth about your failing and the failings of other senior South Yorkshire Police officers. "Mr Duckenfield: "There was no conspiracy as far as I'm concerned. "Mr Menon: "That false narrative has sadly survived to this day hasn't It?" Mr Duckenfield: "I am not in a position to tell you where we are with what has been said and not said over the years because I have shut myself off from things. "Mr Menon: "...and has been pursued at these inquests by your lawyers on your behalf?" Mr Duckenfield: "My lawyers are acting in my best interests."

Transcripts from inquests
Credit: PA

The witness said that yesterday had been his first opportunity to apologise fully without fear of misrepresentation: "I have never spoken out of respect. I wanted to respect the dignity of the families and the deceased."

He said it never crossed his mind that some bereaved relatives had died before hearing his admissions.

Credit: PA

Asked if he thought late, drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans contributed to the disaster, the former Chief Superintendent told the court: "Many people on that day contributed to disaster and I hold a view that football fans played a part."

However, he admitted that, with hindsight, the mistakes he made on the day were a contributory factor to overcrowding, crushing, injury and death in the central pens.

Mr Duckenfield, who said he had post-traumatic stress disorder, added that he wouldn't say his "negligence" caused the disaster but that he would rather use the words "mistake" or "oversight."