The police chief on the day the Hillsborough disaster occurred “apologised unreservedly” to the families of the 96 victims yesterday after admitting a “terrible lie” and misleading others minutes after the disaster unfolded.
Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield the match commander at the game, agreed to a request to open exit gates to prevent crushing at the turnstiles outside the ground, the inquest in Warrington heard. However, after gate C was opened on his orders at eight minutes to kick off, about 2,000 fans poured in, heading straight for a tunnel leading directly to the already-packed central pens three and four, behind the goal.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in the ensuing crush minutes later on the Leppings Lane terrace of Sheffield’s Hillsborough ground as the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest kicked off on April 15 1989.
Mr Duckenfield, 70, said not thinking through the consequences of giving the order to open the gates is “arguably one of the biggest regrets of my life”. His second day of evidence was watched by dozens of relatives of the victims.
Mr Duckenfield went on to admit at a 3.15pm meeting with Football Association boss Graham Kelly, his press chief and club officials in the police control box, he did not tell him it was he himself who had authorised the opening of the gates.
Mr Duckenfield instead said fans had “got in through gates” – while other witnesses claim he used the word, “stormed.”
“I make no excuse, I apologise unreservedly to the families and I hope they believe, it is a very, very sincere apology,” he said.
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