Ex-police officer claimed at time of stadium tragedy that supporters forced open a gate

The South Yorkshire police officer in command at Hillsborough in 1989, when a crush resulted in the deaths of 96 people, admitted at the subsequent public inquiry that he did not tell the truth about the disaster, falsely blaming Liverpool football club supporters for forcing a gate open, a court has heard.

David Duckenfield, then a newly promoted chief superintendent in charge of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989, made that admission in May 1989 and apologised at the official inquiry presided over by Lord Justice Taylor. Duckenfield acknowledged that he had “withheld” the truth – that he had ordered a large exit gate to be opened to alleviate a crush outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles and allow a large number of people through – from everybody at the stadium, including his own senior officer, assistant chief constable Walter Jackson.

The jury has heard that about 2,000 people came through the opened gate C, and many went down a tunnel facing them, into the central “pens” 3 and 4 of the Leppings Lane terrace at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground, where the lethal crush developed.

Duckenfield’s evidence to the Taylor inquiry was read to the jury at his trial at Preston crown court, where he is charged with gross negligence manslaughter of 95 of those who died as a result of the crush.

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