Former Chief Superintendent and Match Commander during the Hillsborough disaster David Duckenfield has admitted to lying about what happened during the disaster after almost 26 years. According to the Liverpool Echo, who has summarized the ongoing Hillsborough inquests over the past year, the main lie he admitted to was reporting that Liverpool fans had rushed the gates on the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium contributing to the crush that killed 96 people and injured 766 when it was actually Duckenfield’s order to open the gate.
Being questioned for multiple days, starting today, Duckenfield answered questions about the preparation and what happened during the disaster including mistakes that were made during the disaster and what could have been done to prevent injuries and deaths. The main thing Duckenfield would say throughout his testimony was the fact that he was unprepared and untrained to take charge of a game like an FA Cup Semifinal. That is true, Duckenfield was put on the job just months ago and had never been in charge of any soccer game, much less a game of that magnitude. However, negligence is still negligence and a lie is a lie. Duckenfield still committed both and here we are 26 years later.
Duckenfield admitted to mistakes such as campaigning of the match to be delayed to alleviate people trying to hurry to enter the stadium before kickoff and to close the tunnel leading to pens 3 and 4 which were filling first and was the ultimate source of the crush. The main mistake he admitted to was ordering to open the gate and the lie that ensued from that.
Duckenfield specified that when Graham Kelly and Glen Kirton from the FA as well as Liverpool club secretary Graham Mackrell went to Duckenfield at 3:15, nine minutes after play was stopped, and asked what the situation was, Duckenfield said that he told them, “some fans have got in through a gate.” When questioned that it he actually said at the time that fans had stormed the gate, Duckenfield said:
“I don’t think I would have been as dramatic as that.
“It was a very difficult moment, a very tense situation, people were coming and going, making various demands of me, and I think frustration was increasing because we couldn’t get on with the job.
“I quite honestly cannot be specific about that first encounter when he asked me what was happening as to what I said, other than I have a view it was something like ‘Some fans have got in through a gate’.”
“I was pointing out that fans had gained unauthorised access to the ground.”
“What I didn’t say to Mr Kelly, I didn’t say, ‘I have authorised the opening of the gates’, I didn’t tell him that.”
“I didn’t give him sufficient information to appreciate the situation as it had occurred.”
Duckenfield admitted to the court that he lied by omitting that he had authorized opening the gates that led to rushing the gates that led to the crush of the Liverpool fans in the Leppings Lane end. As he was on the stand, he apologized to the families of the victims.
“I was probably deeply ashamed, embarrassed, greatly distressed and I probably didn’t want to admit to myself or anyone else, what the situation is.”
“What I would like to say the Liverpool families is this, I regret that omission and I shall regret it to my dying day.”
“I said something rather hurriedly, without considering the position, without thinking of the consequences and the trauma, the heartache and distress that the inference would have caused to those people who were already in a deep state of shock, who were distressed.”
“I apologise unreservedly to the families and I hope they believe it is a very, very sincere apology.”
There will be more information coming out as a result of the Hillsborough inquests as families of the victims and the country at large try to find out what really happened on April 15, 1989 and provide a sense of closure and justice for those who have been affected over the past 26 years.