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Six key questions for Hillsborough inquest

Donna Miller, with a photo of her brother Paul Carlile, arrives at Birchwood Park, Warrington, Cheshire for the opening of the inquest into the Hillsborough disaster. Pic: Neil Jones/PA Wire

Donna Miller, with a photo of her brother Paul Carlile, arrives at Birchwood Park, Warrington, Cheshire for the opening of the inquest into the Hillsborough disaster. Pic: Neil Jones/PA Wire

Jurors at the new Hillsborough Disaster inquest were told this week they would have to consider six key issues.

At the hearing into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans crushed in April 1989, coroner Lord Justice Sir John Goldring pointed to:

The layout of the stadium and whether it contributed to the disaster or the deaths

Whether steps were taken to control the ticket allocation and the crowd

Whether the system of allowing fans to find their own way to the terraces was satisfactory

Could anything have been done to minimise the risk of a crush developing?

The emergency response of the police and ambulance services and whether anything more could have been done by them

The conduct of the fans – and whether they played any part in the disaster.

The coroner said: “I don’t believe anyone will suggest that the conduct of those who died in any way contributed to their deaths.”

Lord Justice Goldring told the jury their responsibility was to “inquire fully, fairly and fearlessly into a disaster which cause the deaths of 96 people”.

He said jurors would have to question whether newly-promoted Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was the right person to be in charge of policing the match.

He said Mr Duckenfield, in the tragedy’s aftermath, told the Football Association Liverpool fans had forced open a gate into the ground, when in fact he had ordered the gate should be opened.

Mr Duckenfield had extensive experience in CID, but had never commanded a match at the ground before.

Lord Justice Goldring said: “He certainly didn’t have the wealth of experience of his predecessor, Chief Superintendent Brian Mole. He was promoted on March 27, 1989, and replaced Mr Mole as the officer in charge. Whether that was a sensible decision might be something for you to have to consider.”

Names of each person who died in the crush at Leppings Lane at the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were read out in alphabetical order, from John Anderson, who was 62 when he died, to Graham Wright, who was 17. About 300 relatives sat in silence.

Lord Justice Goldring has promised that the inquest “will not degenerate into the adversarial battle which scarred the original inquest”.

He summarised previous investigations and inquiries into the disaster including the original inquests in Sheffield.

The inquest would not use the original 3.15pm ‘cut off’ time used by coroner Stefan Popper at the first inquests which was “strongly disputed” by many of the families.

 
 
 

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