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.
The report below - and the witness testimony contained within it - does not necessarily reflect the views of Liverpool FC. Please be aware that the reports on these pages will contain evidence about the day of the disaster which may be distressing.
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Courtesy of The Guardian - November 17
The senior South Yorkshire police officer who was in charge inside the Hillsborough football ground in 1989 when 96 people died has denied subsequently blaming Liverpool fans' behaviour for the disaster because he failed to show leadership on the day.
Roger Greenwood, a superintendent at the time, giving his third day of evidence to the new inquest into the 96 deaths, said he never sought to blame those who died, or other supporters, after the disaster. "I received some very complimentary remarks from police officers, in terms of my actions," he said.
Greenwood said he would refute entirely an assertion from Mark George QC, representing 22 families whose relatives died in the disaster, that his conduct on the day could be characterised as "incompetent on a grand scale".
In a meeting with the South Yorkshire police chief constable, Peter Wright, and other senior officers, at 9am the day after the disaster, which occurred on Saturday 15 April 1989, Greenwood talked about Liverpool fans' behaviour, saying they would turn "nasty" when things went against them, and describing two incidents of disorder from the mid-1980s.
Stephen Simblet, a barrister representing 75 families whose relatives were killed in the crush on the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, asserted that Greenwood had failed to respond to the crush in several ways. He did not implement the police's own major incident plan - Greenwood said that was for the officers in the police control box to do. Simblet asserted that he failed to call for ambulances, as only one St John Ambulance came on to the pitch - Greenwood said he sent a sergeant to the corner of the Hillsborough pitch to alert an ambulance.
Putting to Greenwood that he reacted inadequately to the lethal crush as it was occurring, Simblet had a photograph shown on the court sceens timed at 3:03pm on the day, in which Greenwood was seen standing on an advertising hoarding in front of the metal mesh perimeter fence, with many people being crushed against it. Two of the people in the picture, Simblet pointed out, were among the 96 who died: Inger Shah, a 38-year-old mother of two teenage children who the jury has heard were taken into care after her death, and Marian McCabe, 21.
McCabe's mother, Christine McEvoy, who made a personal statement about her love for her daughter at the beginning of the inquest in March, bowed her head when the picture was shown, then left the courtroom with one of her barristers.
Greenwood said in response to the picture that he did not believe he saw that scene, just before he stepped off the hoarding and ran on to the pitch to ask the referee to stop the match.
"When I got down off that fence I went to stop the game," he said. "I didn't pause to look around me."
Simblet replied: "If you are saying you didn't notice something directly in front of your eyes, we'll leave it there."
Greenwood told the inquest that by running on to the pitch to stop the match, he believed he was alerting his senior officer in the police control box, Ch Supt David Duckenfield, to the seriousness of the problems at the Leppings Lane end. He agreed that police communications were "woeful" and that he did not hear radio contact.
Greenwood said that at 3:03pm, when, according to John Cutlack, an engineer who gave expert evidence to the inquest, there were 1,576 people in central pen 3, which had a safe capacity of 678, he still believed there was room for people to move back and the situation was recoverable. When video footage was shown of Greenwood standing on the hoarding at 3:10pm, waving his hand as if to signal people to move back, he said he may have been signalling to police officers at the back of the pen to try to evacuate people out of the tunnel behind it.
Questioned by Rajiv Menon QC, for 75 bereaved families, Greenwood said he did not remember when he first heard that Duckenfield had told a "lie", saying Liverpool supporters had forced a large exit gate to be opened, which in fact Duckenfield had ordered to be opened to alleviate a crush outside. Greenwood said he could not recollect Duckenfield's "lie" being discussed within South Yorkshire police after the disaster.
Simblet said to Greenwood: "When problems arose, it was for you to show leadership, to deploy the police resources to help those who depended on the police; you failed in that task, didn't you?"
"I don't accept that," Greenwood replied. "In fact, afterwards, I received some very complimentary remarks from police officers in terms of my actions."
"It is for that reason that when you went to the meeting with the chief constable on the Sunday, you came out with all those different things, about the behaviour of the fans, about how it didn't look that bad, and this idea of blaming the fans first emerged?"
"I totally don't accept that," Greenwood replied. "I did not fail. I wish there was more we could have done, but I don't accept your point. We didn't fail."
The inquest also heard from Margaret Topley, the ex-wife of former Ch Supt Brian Mole, an experienced commander of football matches at Hillsborough, who was moved and replaced by Duckenfield on 27 March 1989, 19 days before the semi-final. She told the inquest that her then husband had offered to help Duckenfield, who had never policed a match at Hillsborough before in a senior role, but Duckenfield had refused his offer.
"As far as I can remember, Brian offered to come back, run the match, as he had done them for so many years and David was new to the occupation at Hillsborough," Topley said. "But [Duckenfield] wanted to do it himself, and he wouldn't require Brian's help."
Questioned by Patrick Roche, for the 75 bereaved families, Topley said that both Mole and Duckenfield had been freemasons. She said Mole had left the freemasons because "he was annoyed with people always asking the masons to give favours for others." When he left, Duckenfield was still a freemason, she said.
The inquest continues.