Hillsborough officer admits his failure to close tunnel caused 96 deaths

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has accepted his failure to close the tunnel was the direct cause of the death of 96 people in April 1989.

Giving evidence during the new inquest into the disaster, Mr Duckenfield said it had been the most difficult period of his life to admit his professional failing led to the deaths.

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Duckenfield accused of lying to Hillsborough criminal investgators

David Duckenfield has been accused of lying to investigators from Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the Hillsborough disaster.

The former officer has claimed that he had a change of heart about his role in the tragedy at the time of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in September 2012.

But today, lawyer Pete Weatherby took him through the statement he made to investigators in March last year, before the start of the current inquests, pointing out that he included none of the admissions he has since made before the coroner in Warrington.

"Why were you prepared to say to Operation Resolve and the IPCC you couldn't add anything apart from minor amendments?" Mr Weatherby asked.

He added: "You were still sticking to the denials you'd made in the past. This was a misleading statement."

Mr Duckenfield replied: "It wasn't misleading"

Mr Weatherby said: "It wasn't the truth was it?...You've been following these proceedings. You've seen the writing on the wall and you've been driven to accept responsibility."

"I've now learned of my failings, and I'm accepting them," Mr Duckenfield replied.


Duckenfield questioned over 'buck stops with me' comment

David Duckenfield was questioned on the extent of his admission of responsibility after he admitted lying about his role in the Hillsborough disaster and apologised to the victims' families last week.

Today Peter Weatherby, lawyer for 22 of the families, repeated Mr Duckenfield's statement before the jury that 'the buck stops with me'.

The barrister pointed out that at various times he has blamed the part of supporters, junior officers at Hillsborough, and the quality of the monitors in the police control box.

Mr Weatherby said: "When you're cornered about what you said before the Taylor Inquiry [in 1989] you say you were traumatised.

"Although you have accepted some responsibility, we have had the book of excuses, haven't we?" he added.

Mr Duckenfield replied: "I told the truth".

"You accept responsibility, you're making expressions of sorrow and regret, but you're offloading onto other people," Mr Weatherby told him.

"No sir", Mr Duckenfield replied.

Hillsborough officer questioned over apology

David Duckenfield Credit: PA Wire

The Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield began the fifth day of his evidence before the inquests today being questioned about the apology he offered to the victims' families on Friday.

Peter Weatherby, lawyer for 22 of the families, asked him: "What is it that you are so sorry for? Is it an acceptance of responsibility for the events of 15th April and the deaths of 96 people?"

Duckenfield replied: "Many people were party to the events of that day, and I'm apologising for my part."

The lawyer asked again: "Are you apologising for your responsibility? Or is this a politician's apology, that sounds much better than reality."

"I'm not a politician", said the former Chief Superintendent.

Mr Weatherby then put it to him: "The disaster resulted from your serious failures that day as admitted by you before this jury."

Duckenfield replied: "Yes sir".

Duckenfield admits he 'steadfastly deceived' football club

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield admitted in court today he "steadfastly deceived" football club representatives.

He agreed with Michael Mansfield QC that he practiced in "far reaching deceit" and gave a false impression in the press conference after the 1989 tragedy.

ITV Granada correspondent Andy Bonner is at the inquest:

  1. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Duckenfield's 'oversights' were 'reckless', barrister says

Michael Mansfield QC arriving at the Warrington inquest Credit: Reuters

Taking over cross-examination of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, Michael Mansfield QC, said he was "reckless" by not recognising the risk of injury to fans.

Duckenfield replied: "It was purely an oversight in very stressful circumstances."

"I opened those gates and was solely focusing on those gates and looking at saving people from death," he added.

Mansfield: These weren't just ordinary oversights.

Duckenfield: Sir, at the time I say that they were oversights.

Mansfield: I'm going to suggest to you that they were serious oversights.

Duckenfield: Considering the consequences sir, yes.

Mansfield: If you didn't recognise the risks, you were being incredibly reckless.

Duckenfield: I was concerned to save lives and on opening those gates my only hopes were it would save lives... it was neither reckless or anything else. It was purely an oversight in a very stressful situation.

– Cross-examination at Hillsborough inquest in Warrington


  1. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Duckenfield's leadership was 'woefully inadequate'

David Duckenfield outside court Credit: Reuters

The barrister representing 75 families of Hillsborough victims, Rajiv Menon QC put to David Duckenfield that his leadership was "woefully inadequate from start to finish".

Duckenfield replied: "I disagree, Sir."

Menon said: "Your mistake was the most terrifyingly bad mistake... It was negligent and ultimately it caused the death of 96 Liverpool fans."

Duckenfield replied: "No sir... It is my view that it was an oversight, a mistake. I didn't view it as negligence and certainly never gross negligence."

I wanted people to remain calm, to remain in their seats and cause as little disruption as possible.

I was making decisions in a very critical situation. Whatever decisions you make in a crisis, there's always others who will disagree.

If my sole purpose is to decide what to tell the fans, which may hamper my rescue operations, then I have got my priorities wrong.

What was i going to say? There's been a crushing. I wasn't in possession of all the facts at the time. I was there on the day, I made that decision, rightly or wrongly.

– David Duckenfield
  1. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Hillsborough match commander: 'The buck stops with me'

Hillsborough match commander said "the buck stops with me" when questioned whether any blame lay with his late deputy.

Rajiv Menon QC, lawyer for 75 of the Hillsborough families, asked David Duckenfield, the former Chief Superintendent of South Yorkshire police, whether any blame lies with Bernard Murray, now deceased, his second in command on the day.

Duckenfield told the court: "Ultimately the buck stops with me. The easiest thing to do in my position is to blame others. And I'm not doing that."

Hillsborough police 'lost control' before kick-off

Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield Credit: PA Wire

The officer in charge of policing at Hillsborough said that police "lost control" by 2.40pm on the day of the tragedy.

On his third day of evidence, former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was shown video of up to 2,000 people entering the central pens in the run up to the FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989.

He said: "Around 2.30 we were in a situation that wanted monitoring.

"Then we had radio difficulties and all concentration, focus was lost. By time it was restored we'd lost control."

ITV Granada reporter Andy Bonner is at the inquest:

Earlier, he said that the pens at 2.49pm looked full but at moments appeared to be enough room for people to raise their arms and chant.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing families of Hillsborough victims, asked him whether it is proper to allow the pens to fill up with people to the extent they can't move.

"I would dispute the word allow," Duckenfield said. "I have admitted my failings but I was attempting to save lives."

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.

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