The Hillsborough inquests commenced on March 31, 2014 and are the subject of reporting restrictions that have been imposed by the Attorney General's office. Liverpool Football Club is respectful of these restrictions and will therefore only be making available updates from other media channels for the duration of the inquest.
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Courtesy of Press Association - October 1
One of the most senior officers on duty at the Hillsborough disaster has told the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans it was a tragedy for the police at the match as well as the bereaved families.
Former superintendent Roger Marshall, who was in charge of policing the turnstiles outside the Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, said those in command on the day "did our professional best".
Mr Marshall told the jury: "The outcome was tragic for everyone - not just the fans who lost their lives, which was awful, but also the families of those people. It's tragic for every police officer. It's a tragedy that affected us all. That should be obvious, I think, from the way that people have come here to speak."
He was giving evidence at the inquests in Warrington for a second day.
The jury has heard how Mr Marshall is the officer who asked for the exit gates to be opened 13 minutes before the kick-off of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989.
Today, Peter Wilcock QC, representing 75 of the bereaved families, asked him "whether in your mind is the thought that if you hadn't asked for the gates to be opened then 96 people wouldn't have died".
Mr Marshall said: "Yes, I think that's true."
Yesterday, he told the court how he regretted not asking for the kick-off to be delayed.
Watching video footage of the crowds outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles before the match, the former officer agreed that police had "lost control completely" of the crowd 25 minutes before kick-off.
Mr Marshall insisted some of those in the crowd were not complying with reasonable instructions because they had drunk too much and there was pushing in the mass of people waiting to get through the turnstiles.
Looking at footage taken at 2.35pm, Pete Weatherby, representing another group of families, said to him: "Police had lost control completely?"
The former officer replied: "Yes."
Mr Marshall earlier told the barrister: "There was a tremendous amount of surging going on. People are pushing their way into the area."
Mr Weatherby suggested to him that there was no apparent misbehaviour by the fans in the clip.
The former officer said: "There's clearly some evidence of what I spoke about yesterday. People with any common sense would see that this area was completely packed with people. I just question why people would then push and move."
Mr Weatherby said: "There's no pushing going on there is there?"
Mr Marshall said: "I think there is."
He was asked by Mr Weatherby about drinking by fans before the game.
Mr Marshall said he thought some fans had had too much to drink and that "coloured their judgment".
The barrister asked whether he was trying to "shift the blame".
The former officer told the jury: "No, I'm not doing that."
He said he hated using the word blame and said he was horrified by media reports of yesterday's proceedings which, he said, indicated he had blamed the fans.
"I don't ever recall using the word blame at all," he said.
He agreed that if the disaster had not happened he would not have thought twice about the drinking of the fans.
But he said: "I'm not saying people are lying on the floor drunk. I've never suggested that's the case.
"I think I take a moderate view in the sense that I've talked about a substantial minority whose temper and willingness to accept reasonable suggestions was clouded by the fact they'd had two or three pints too many perhaps.
Mr Marshall told the inquest: "I think that some of the fans, not all of the fans, have a responsibility for what occurred and the situation that arose under my command."
Mr Weatherby asked Mr Marshall whether he thought fans arriving late had any influence on what happened on the day.
He said the number of people arriving at the turnstiles "complicated the situation".
Mr Weatherby said to him: "Lateness had no impact whatsoever on what happened in 1989?"
Mr Marshall said: "Vast numbers of people can be seen arriving in the period between 2.35pm and 3 o'clock. Large numbers of people are still arriving after 3pm."
He said: "I had a naive expectation that people would co-operate."
And Mr Weatherby asked the former officer whether he agreed that ticketless fans had no influence on what transpired.
Mr Marshall said: "I can't either agree or disagree on that."
Earlier, Mr Marshall was asked whether problems at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough the previous year was a "pre-cursor" to the 1989 disaster.
The former officer said: "It may have been a precursor but I have to say I don't think it was recognised as such."
Mr Weatherby asked the former officer whether he thought the police commanders had failed to address to the problems of getting 24,000 fans through 23 turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end.
"No sir, we did," Mr Marshall replied.
Mr Wilcock asked Mr Marshall: "Is the sad fact that you were out of your depth?"
The former officer replied: "I don't think I was out of my depth. I was doing my very best."
He told the jury: "I was doing what I thought was my absolute best to sort it out.
"But I was just one person in the midst of what can clearly be seen as total mayhem. I don't think I can say anything more than that."
Mr Marshall said: "The situation I found myself in the midst of was to me unprecedented."
The inquest heard how Mr Marshall told investigators after the disaster he thought the Leppings Lane end stand must have been quite empty when the gate was opened because of the amount of people outside.
He told the inquest that, in hindsight, he should have asked for more information.
But asked if he felt let down by Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield - the officer in overall command of the match - he said he did not want to criticise him.
Mr Marshall said: "I was one member of a team. It was a team game we were playing. I don't wish to criticise David Duckenfield and neither do I wish to criticise the people in ground control."
He also told the jury: "The police resources were completely inadequate to cope with the vast numbers. We were overwhelmed."
Starting his questioning, Mr Wilcock explained to the former officer the line of questioning he would be taking and said to him: "You have no choice but to paint a picture of the behaviour of the fans caught in the crush at Leppings Lane which is not only, in many ways, offensive to those who died but simply doesn't match the available images of the events."
Mr Marshall told the inquests: "If we'd had 200 or 300 police officers that might have resolved the situation. But in the situation presented to me I think there's no way I could have prevented people getting into the turnstile area."
He told the court: "I think you'll agree with me that by 2.35pm onwards, whatever measures I could have employed, given the resources and lack of co-operation, which became steadily worse, made my situation almost unmanageable."
The inquests were adjourned until tomorrow at 10am when Mr Marshall will continue giving his evidence.