David Duckenfield: Hillsborough match commander told 'terrible lie' about forced gate


A "terrible lie" told by Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield was said to have "no significance" in his first trial but later became key evidence in his retrial.

The court heard in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died following a crush on the terraces, Mr Duckenfield told Football Association boss Graham Kelly and his press chief Glen Kirton that a gate at the ground had been forced.

He did not tell them he had authorised the opening of the exit gates.

This allowed crowds outside to enter and head down a tunnel to the central pens of the terrace, where the fatal crush happened.

In his evidence at inquests into the deaths in 2015, Mr Duckenfield admitted it had been a "terrible lie" and apologised "unreservedly" to the families.

But, the jury in the first trial, which began in January, did not hear that evidence and in his summing up of the case judge Sir Peter Openshaw said it "wasn't in the least surprising" Duckenfield had told the officials the gate had been forced.

He said other officers, including Chief Inspector Malcolm Edmundson in police headquarters and Sergeant Michael Goddard and Chief Inspector Robert McRobbie in the control box with Duckenfield on April 15 1989, had formed that impression when exit gates to the ground were opened briefly at 2.48pm, allowing 100 to 150 fans in.

Minutes after that, Mr Duckenfield gave the order for the gate to be opened again and more than 2,000 Liverpool fans entered.

Sir Peter said: "Since the impression that Chief Inspector Edmundson had and indeed that Sergeant Goddard had from listening to those messages was that supporters forced their way in through the gates at Leppings Lane and since Chief Inspector McRobbie came to precisely the same impression, it isn't therefore in the least surprising Mr Duckenfield had that impression and passed it on to Mr Kirton from the FA."

He added: "I direct you in clear terms that as evidence as turned out in this trial what Mr Duckenfield said to Mr Kirton after the match has no significance in the case at all and you should put it out of your mind."

In the second trial, Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, told jurors in the opening speech about the "very misleading" comments.

He said: "The prosecution allege it is evidence that David Duckenfield had realised he had at least some personal responsibility for what had happened that led to the deaths."

The jury heard evidence from the public inquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor in 1989, where Mr Duckenfield admitted he "may have misled" Mr Kelly, as well as the evidence he gave to the 2015 inquests.

Benjamin Myers QC, defending, cautioned against using the lie as a "shortcut to conviction".

Summing up the retrial, Sir Peter set out the arguments of both prosecution and defence.

He told the jury: "The question arises as to what, if anything, to make of Mr Duckenfield's statement that the gate had been forced."

Reporting by PA.

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