Hillsborough inquests: Safety certificate 'out of date'

The Hillsborough disaster
Image caption Ninety-six fans died as a result of the crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final

Hillsborough's safety certificate was "out of date" at the time of the stadium disaster, a jury has heard.

Inquests are being held into the deaths of 96 fans who died as result of a crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Retired senior fire officer Ronald Grimshaw was on a committee monitoring the ground's safety certificate.

He told the jury it was still valid in 1989, but "everybody in the working party was concerned that the safety certificate was so far out of date".

'Gone awry'

Mr Grimshaw was on the working party committee that oversaw the safety certificate of Sheffield Wednesday's ground between 1984 and 1988 when the layout of the Leppings Lane terraces changed.

This included the installation of radial fences that divided the standing terraces into pens.

He said: "It was just the planning side of it had gone awry because there were so many alterations being proposed, to be updated.

"It was always promised that it would be, it was just... every time I think they looked at it something else happened."

When asked by Philip Kolvin QC, representing Sheffield City Council, if he thought the stadium was capable of being operated safely, assuming everybody did their job correctly, Mr Grimshaw replied: "Yes."

Asked about the introduction of the radial fences, Mr Grimshaw told the jury it was a workable idea on the condition police officers were deployed to count the number of fans coming in and out and police were able to open and close gates if necessary.

Mr Grimshaw told the hearing the police "were experienced in doing it and as soon as they realised that they got the capacity, then they would close the gates and divide spectators around the sides to the wings".

He told the court he would not have approved the plans had he not received assurances police would be in control of the terrace.

'No defects'

On Thursday, the inquests in Warrington heard 38 fans were reportedly injured in a "crushing incident" at Hillsborough eight years before the 1989 disaster.

It happened during the 1981 FA Cup semi-final between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Questioned about the "crushing" Mr Grimshaw said the working party was told about an incident but was given no other details or that it involved crushing.

Heather Williams QC, who represents one of the Hillsborough families, asked: "Were you told that it involved crushing?"

"No, we were just told it was an incident," Mr Grimshaw replied.

The inquests heard the Hillsborough stadium had "no significant defects" when it was last inspected 11 months before the disaster.

The inquests continue.

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