Hillsborough capacity figure 'too high', inquests told

Terraces on the Leppings Lane end
Image caption Fences were meant to give more control over the numbers of fans in central pens

Allowing fans unrestricted access to Hillsborough's standing terraces at the time of the stadium disaster would have been "ridiculous", a jury has heard.

The official capacity figure for the Leppings Lane terrace was too high, the Hillsborough inquests have been told.

The jury was hearing evidence from Sheffield Wednesday's consultant engineer, Dr Wilfred Eastwood.

"When you start penning there must be control," he told the 1989 inquiry into the disaster, in which 96 people died.

They were killed following a crush at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield stadium on 15 April 1989.

Legal representatives at fresh inquests in Warrington are reading out transcripts of Dr Eastwood's evidence as he is too ill to attend the inquests.

Dr Eastwood said "with hindsight" the figure of 10,100 for the capacity of the standing part of the Leppings Lane end was "too high".

The jury heard the capacities of pens three and four, where the crush that led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans happened, were not arrived at "scientifically or mathematically".

Dr Eastwood said the fences put in to create the pens were meant to give more control over the numbers of fans in the central pens.

He said there was no way of keeping the crowd density to within levels set by guidelines because "there was no means of counting" the number of fans entering individual pens.

The inquests heard Dr Eastwood told the original inquiry Hillsborough would be "absolutely safe" with the proper controls in place.

He said there was "no safer ground" if the spectators had been "properly controlled".

But Dr Eastwood said: "There was an enormous increase in the number of people there and that is why they became unsafe."

"With those numbers, it was inevitable - whatever the configuration of barriers - that people would be crushed," he added.

Last week 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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