Hillsborough inquests: Lepping Lane end capacity unchanged

Terraces on the Leppings Lane end Despite changes, the capacity for the Leppings Lane end remained at 10,100

A structural engineer was told to keep the capacity at Hillsborough above 50,000 as it was "vital" to the club's future, the inquests have heard.

John Strange said he was asked to keep the 50,000 "magic number" when changes were made to the stadium so Sheffield Wednesday FC could host big matches.

He said the Leppings Lane end figure needed readjusting but feared "retribution" from his employer.

The number was unchanged from 1979 to the 1989 disaster when 96 fans died.

'Avoided confrontation'

Mr Strange, who worked for Sheffield Wednesday's engineering consultants firm, told the jury he was opposed to a number of changes to the stadium layout in the 1980s but admitted he did nothing at the time.

Ninety-six people died following overcrowding at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest.

Mr Strange, who was employed by Eastwood & Partners, said he "avoided confrontation" with the firm's owner Dr Eastwood as he could make "life very difficult".

He said: "If you did challenge him you could expect retribution, so you avoided confrontation to begin with."

Dr Eastwood is not well enough to attend the inquests in Warrington.

Tottenham Hotspur fans spilled on to the perimeter track at the Leppings Lane end of the ground In the 1981 crush Tottenham Hotspur fans spilled on to the perimeter track at the Leppings Lane end

In 1981, the Leppings Lane end was divided into three separate pens following a crush at that year's FA Cup semi-final.

The crush at the game between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers resulted in 38 people being injured.

In 1985, it was further divided into five pens following a request from the police.

Throughout those changes the capacity for the Leppings Lane end remained at 10,100.

A document that was seen by the jury appeared to show the club was struggling financially.

'Greater away fans'

Mr Strange agreed the capacity needed readjusting but he would not do so without being asked by Dr Eastwood, the inquests were told.

The jury heard Mr Strange was "dissatisfied" that dedicated entrances for particular parts of the terrace were not introduced, which would have allowed numbers going in to be monitored.

He also disagreed with the removal of a crush barrier from the Leppings Lane end, the jury heard.

Mr Strange said removing the barrier should have reduced the standing capacity because of fears it could lead to overloading.

Peter Willcock QC, who represents 75 of the Hillsborough families, asked why he did not push the point more firmly with Dr Eastwood.

Mr Willcock said: "He was your boss, but you were a qualified structural engineer. You're not a babe in arms."

Mr Strange responded: "When he said do something, you did it, you had no option."

Mr Willcock said: "Even if it put someone's life at risk?"

"He was the boss," Mr Strange said.

CCTV of fans at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 Closed turnstiles meant 6,000 more fans had to enter the stadium through the Leppings Lane entrance

Later Mr Strange said there was "disbelief in the office" when the decision was made to allocate the Leppings Lane end to Liverpool fans because they had "a far greater away support".

He read a letter he had recently written about Dr Eastwood which said: "If he detected any mental weaknesses in a member of staff he would exploit it, if he took a dislike to them, until he destroyed them.

"You may believe I am deranged but I still feel under his control and I can even detect his presence here today," Mr Strange added.

The jury was told Mr Strange was of the opinion that the safety certificate was "a living document" which he assumed someone was updating.

He accepted Eastwood & Partners was responsible for ensuring Hillsborough was a safe place for football spectators.

The hearing continues.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Liverpool

Weather

Liverpool

Min. Night 5 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    16:59: News on the hour BBC Radio Merseyside

    Coming up in the news at 17:00: Four councils in Merseyside and Cheshire will set their budget this evening.

    Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens and Halton councils will discuss cuts to services and a possible rise in council tax.

     
  2.  
    16:51: Council cuts protest Marc Gaier BBC Radio Merseyside

    The GMB and Unite unions are demonstrating in Huyton against job losses at Knowsley Council, as it sets its 2015/2016 budget.

    Unions demonstrate against job losses as Knowsley Council as it sets its budget

    The unions say they're demonstrating over proposals to cut 127 jobs.

    Cabinet member councillor Norman Keats proposes council tax freeze in the meeting, accusing the government of stealing from poor, telling protesters to direct their anger at them.

     
  3.  
    16:40: 'Offering advice and support'

    University of Liverpool tweets: A PhD student was injured in an incident in a chemistry lab today. We are investigating how this occurred and offering advice and support

     
  4.  
    16:30: Cycle-to-school challenge

    Almost 50 schools on Merseyside are taking part in a competition to get children cycling to school.

    The Big Pedal competition is organised by cycling charity Sustrans and is intended to encourage children to ride their bikes.

    The Big Pedal

    Over the next three weeks, schools around the country will go up against each other to see who can use bikes and scooters the most on their commute to school.

     
  5.  
    16:14: Birthday greetings Liverpool Echo

    He's a Liverpool F.C. legend for many more than 64 reasons... happy birthday Kenny Dalglish! Read more.

     
  6.  
    16:00: News on the hour Megan Key BBC Radio Merseyside

    In the news at 16:00: we'll hear from Labour councillor Steve Munby who says if there was a way to avoid cutting the budget of a domestic abuse support service - he would do it.

     
  7.  
    15:56: Weather snapshot Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    Got plans over the coming days and want to know what the weather has in-store? For the latest forecast for Merseyside visit BBC Weather.

    Sara Blizzard

    You can also keep up to date by following the team @BBCWeather on Twitter.

    Here's Sara (pictured) with a weather snapshot over the next five days.

     
  8.  
    15:43: Nurse suspended over 86 failings Runcorn & Widnes World

    A nurse at Warrington Hospital who faced 86 charges of poor patient care and treatment has been suspended for 12 months.

    Grace Arkoh-Ankrah was accused of a general 'lack of competence' at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing last week.

     
  9.  
    15:31: Minister to decide on McGinty killers

    Geraldine and Peter McGinty says they feel "let down again" over their son's murder following a recommendation to move his killers to an open prison.

    Colin McGinty

    Michael Brown and Gary Hampton were both jailed for a minimum of 16 years after stabbing 21-year-old Colin McGinty to death in 2001 in Bootle, Merseyside.

    A request to move them from a closed prison is to be considered by the Parole Board, but the decision rests ultimately with minister Chris Grayling.

    Read more on this story on BBC News.

     
  10.  
    15:21: Saints forced into changes Phil Kinsella BBC Merseyside Sport

    St Helens will be forced into at least two changes for Friday's game at Wakefield.

    St Helens v Castleford Tigers

    Front row forward Kyle Amor was given a two-match ban by the RFL disciplinary panel. Half-back Travis Burns, was given a one-match ban - both were found guilty of offences in the game against Castleford last week. Both will be missing on Friday.

    Amor will also miss the following game against Widnes. Watch a Super League round-up on BBC Sport.

     
  11.  
    15:09: 'Violent assault'

    Merseyside Police say a post-mortem examination confirmed Roy Heyes (pictured) died after receiving multiple injuries "consistent with a sustained violent assault".

    Roy Heyes

    A 27-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Mr Heyes at his home in Kensington on Sunday.

     
  12.  
    14:59: News on the hour Megan Key BBC Radio Merseyside

    Our top story at 15:00: A barrister says claims his client told senior officers in South Yorkshire Police to put the blame for the Hillsborough disaster onto drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans, are "barefaced lies".

     
  13.  
    14:49: Due to appear in court later

    Martin Daiken, of Boaler Street, Kensington has been charged the murder of 47-year-old Roy Heyes.

    The 27-year-old has been remanded in custody to appear at Liverpool Magistrates' Court this afternoon.

     
  14.  
    14:42: BREAKING NEWS

    A 27-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Roy Heyes from Liverpool, who died at his home in Kensington on Sunday, Merseyside Police says.

     
  15.  
    14:38: First win of 2015 Phil Kinsella BBC Merseyside Sport

    Good news for Southport as they got their first win of 2015 with a 1-0 success over Halifax.

    It moves them out of the conference bottom four.

     
  16.  
    14:23: Abuse victims 'will suffer in silence' BBC Radio Merseyside

    A victim of domestic abuse in Liverpool is warning more people will be forced to suffer in silence - because of cuts to the organisation that helped her.

    South Liverpool Domestic Abuse Services' £34,000 grant from Liverpool City Council is being halved as the council tries to balance its books.

    A full meeting of Liverpool City Council is held later to set the budget for 2015/16.

     
  17.  
    14:15: Happy birthday Kenny Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    Happy birthday Kenny Dalglish! I'm sure he won't mind us pointing out that he's 64 today.

    Kenny Dalglish
     
  18.  
    14:00: News on the hour Megan Key BBC Radio Merseyside

    A former South Yorkshire Police officer says he and his colleagues were given a 'call to arms' to put the blame for the Hillsborough disaster 'where it belongs: on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans'.

    Clive Davis has been giving evidence at the new inquests.

     
  19.  
    13:55: Match preview: Stoke v Everton BBC Sport

    Everton will assess left-back Leighton Baines, who missed the defeat to Arsenal after suffering a minor thigh injury.

    Roberto Martinez

    If Baines is unavailable, youngster Luke Garbutt will continue to deputise.

    Christian Atsu remains out through illness, but is set to return to training on Friday.

    Kick off is at 19:45 at the Britannia Stadium.

     
  20.  
    13:30: Coming up on North West Today Annabel Tiffin Presenter, North West Tonight

    This lunchtime: The Hillsborough inquest hears how police officers were told to put the blame on "drunken, ticketless Liverpool supporters".

    And we'll have more on the researcher who has been injured in an explosion at a chemistry laboratory.

    Join us for the latest news on BBC North West Today from 13:30.

     
  21.  
    13:26: Match preview: Liverpool v Burnley BBC Sport

    Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is back in training following a hamstring injury but is unlikely to be risked for tonight's home game against Burnley.

    Liverpool celebrate scoring against Manchester City

    Glen Johnson has overcome illness and Mamadou Sakho is nearing a return after a hip problem, but Jordon Ibe remains out with a knee injury.

    The match kicks off at 20:00 tonight at Anfield

     
  22.  
    13:17: Tranmere fans "entitled to boo"

    Tranmere fans were "entitled to boo" their team after they suffered a third successive loss, says Rovers chairman Mark Palios.

    Mark Palios

    Defeat at home to Wycombe on Tuesday leaves Tranmere one spot above the relegation places.

    "They're entitled to boo, of course they are," said 62-year-old Palios.

    He told BBC Radio Merseyside: "They pay the money, they pay the wages and they demand a performance from the players, the board and the management team as well.

     
  23.  
    12:59: News on the hour BBC Radio Merseyside

    Coming up at 13:00: A barrister says claims his client told senior officers in South Yorkshire Police to put the blame for the Hillsborough disaster onto drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans, are "barefaced lies".

    Former police inspector Clive Davis made the claim as he gave evidence at the Hillsborough Inquests.

     
  24.  
    12:50: Man 'exposed himself' near school Southport Visiter

    A man accused of exposing himself outside a school in Southport changed his plea to guilty midway through a trial.

    Philip Louis Baxendale, 65, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court over an allegation he committed sexual offences near Greenbank High School for girls in Hillside, Southport.

     
  25.  
    12:35: Liverpool 'eye Villareal's Vietto'

    BBC Sport Gossip column reports: Liverpool and Real Madrid have expressed an interest in 21-year-old Villarreal striker Luciano Vietto, who has a £7.25m release clause, according to the player's agent.

    Luciano Vietto
     
  26.  
    12:30: Trains delayed

    TransPennine Express tweets: INFO:Signalling problems #Birchwood - #ManchesterOxfordRoad services have to run at reduced speeds. Delays likely, bit.ly/JnyChck

     
  27.  
    12:18: Explosion road closures lifted Leanne Harper Reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

    Within the last half hour, things have started to return to normal around the chemistry building at the University of Liverpool.

    Oxford Street is now open to all traffic following the earlier explosion.

     
  28.  
    12:08: Rare baby rhino dies at Chester Zoo

    A rare baby black rhino has died at Chester Zoo, a month after she was born.

    Kitani and Fara

    Fara's birth was caught on film on 31 January as her 17-year-old mother Kitani spun around during the delivery.

    The calf was taken ill yesterday. A spokeswoman said it was "too early" to say how Fara died, adding that a post-mortem examination was being carried out.

    Eastern black rhinos are critically endangered with only about 650 left in the wild.

     
  29.  
    12:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    In the news at 12:00: A former South Yorkshire Police officer says he and his colleagues were given a "call to arms" to put the blame for the Hillsborough disaster "where it belongs: on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans".

    Clive Davis has been giving evidence at the new inquests. We'll have the latest from our reporter Ben Schofield who is at the coroner's court.

     
  30.  
    11:48: Explosion: Smashed windows close-up Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    We're filming at the scene of this morning's explosion but it's proved tricky getting a close-up photo of the damage caused at the university.

    Here's a still image from our TV camera showing how the force of the blast blew out the windows of the chemistry lab.

    Up-close smashed windows

    The chemistry building is closed for the rest of the day as investigations into the cause are carried out.

     
  31.  
    11:37: Explosion shuts chemistry building Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    Liverpool University's Robert Robinson building will be closed for the rest of the day to allow investigations into the cause of the explosion to be carried out.

    The university tweets saying it expects the chemistry building to be open for lectures as usual from tomorrow.

    BBC Travel map

    BBC Travel report that diversions remain in place on surrounding roads. Oxford Street is closed between Grove Street and Mouth Pleasant junction.

     
  32.  
    11:27: Pre-season friendly

    Liverpool Ladies took on Everton last night in a pre-season friendly at the Select Stadium.

    The Reds beat Everton 1-0. Read a full match report on the Liverpool website.

     
  33.  
    11:17: Explosion 'smashed windows' Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Here's a photo of smashed windows at the University of Liverpool's chemistry building where a male post doctoral student was injured in an explosion.

    Smashed windows at the University of Liverpool chemistry building following an explosion

    I'll have a full report on North West Tonight on BBC One from 13:30.

     
  34.  
    11:10: Researcher taken to hospital Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    The University of Liverpool says a male researcher who was injured in a "small explosion" has been taken to hospital for further treatment.

    A spokeswoman says the student injured was a post-doctoral researcher and not a post-graduate as originally stated.

     
  35.  
    Bettison told inspector to attend 'blame' meeting 11:05: Breaking News Ben Schofield Hillsborough reporter

    Clive Davis (pictured) says he was told by his chief inspector, Norman Bettison, to go to the meeting because it was a good opportunity to get noticed.

    Clive Davis

    Ninety-six Liverpool fans died after crushing at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

    The inquests are due to last until early 2016.

     
  36.  
    11:00: News on the hour BBC Radio Merseyside

    In the news at 11:00: Our reporter Leanne Harper's at the University of Liverpool following an explosion at a laboratory.

     
  37.  
    Hillsborough officers told to 'blame fans' Breaking News Ben Schofield Hillsborough reporter

    A former police inspector says he and his colleagues were given a "call to arms" to put the blame for the Hillsborough disaster "where it belongs, on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool supporters".

    Clive Davis is giving evidence at the new inquests in Warrington. He's recalled going to a briefing given by Chief Superintendent Terry Wain the Monday after the tragedy.

    More to follow.

     
  38.  
    10:44: Uni explosion: Round-up Tom Mullen BBC News Online

    Here's a full round-up of how the investigation into an explosion at the University of Liverpool is progressing.

    Uni explosion

    Merseyside Fire Service says it received a call at 08:48 to a chemistry laboratory on Oxford Street in Liverpool following reports of a "small explosion".

    A postgraduate student has been given first aid and the university says staff are offering "advice and support" to those affected.

     
  39.  
    10:35: 'As long as it takes' - Palios

    Last night Tranmere Rovers lost 2-1 against Wycombe putting them one spot above the relegation place.

    Tranmere chairman Mark Palios spoke this morning to say he is standing by the club: "I'm here for as long as it takes to make sure the club is as safe as we can make it.

    Prenton Park, Tranmere Rovers

    "If somebody better can come along who is better than us then we'll respect that. At the end of the day I'm here for the long haul. We didn't just come for one season."

     
  40.  
    Explosion: Student injured 10:20: Breaking News Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    A University of Liverpool spokeswoman confirms that a postgraduate student has been injured in an incident in a chemistry laboratory.

    Firefighters at the scene

    She says: "The University is investigating how the incident occurred and is offering advice and support to those affected."

     
  41.  
    Man hurt in 'small explosion' 10:16: Breaking News Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    A man has been treated at the scene following what firefighters describe as a "small explosion involving a chemical.

    Merseyside Fire Service says it received a call at 8.48am to the university building on Oxford Street in Liverpool.

    Three fire appliances were sent along with the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Unit.

     
  42.  
    Uni explosion: 'No-one injured' 10.06: Breaking News Tom Mullen BBC News

    We're still waiting for an official statement from the university regarding the explosion, but a spokesman has said at this stage they do not believe anyone has been hurt.

     
  43.  
    09:59: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Our top story at 10:00: Merseyside police and fire deal with an explosion at a chemical lab at the university of Liverpool.

    Paramedics are also at the scene on Grove Street which has been closed between Oxford Street and Crown Street.

     
  44.  
    Explosion: Eyewitness photo 09:56:

    Member of the public, Richard Buxton tweets: Police have cordoned off area round Oxford St this morning due to an explosion in Uni of Liverpool's chemical labs.

    Police block off road in Liverpool city centre
     
  45.  
    Explosion: University confirms 'incident' 09:53: Breaking News Tom Mullen BBC News

    The University of Liverpool has confirmed it is looking into reports of an "incident" at one of its chemistry laboratories, amid rumours of an explosion at the site.

    More updates on this to follow.

     
  46.  
    Emergency services at scene of 'explosion' 09:47: Breaking News

    Police and fire services are at the scene of the explosion in a chemistry lab at the University of Liverpool.

     
  47.  
    'Explosion' at university 09:43: Breaking News Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    There's been an explosion at a chemistry lab at the University of Liverpool.

    BBC Travel reports that Grove Street is closed between Oxford Street and Crown Street due to the incident.

    We'll have more updates shortly.

     
  48.  
    09:36: 'Protect youngsters from alcohol'

    Nine in ten people in the North West say the Government need to do more to protect young people from alcohol.

    Young person drinking

    That's according to campaign group Drink Wise North West - which has carried out its first ever survey on alcohol regulation. It will present the findings to Downing Street today.

     
  49.  
    09:20: Southport 1-0 Halifax BBC Sport

    Scott Kay struck late to lift Southport out of the Conference relegation zone and dent Halifax's play-off hopes.

    With nine minutes left, Kay drove home Matty Challoner's pass to register the Sandgrounders' first win of 2015.

    Read the full match report on BBC Sport.

     
  50.  
    09:14: Parents 'let down' again over son's murder

    Parents who overheard a judge saying victim statements made "no difference" to parole decisions say they have been "let down" after hearing their son's killers could be moved to open prisons.

    Geraldine and Peter McGinty

    Geraldine and Peter McGinty, whose son Colin was stabbed to death in Bootle in 2001, heard the judge's remark last year and later met minister Chris Grayling, who ordered a review.

    The family say the killers have been recommended for moves to open prisons following private hearings. The government said it had "sympathy".

     
  51.  
    08:57: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    The amount Liverpool University's Vice Chancellor spent on flights and expenses last year topped £40,000 according to a report.

    In the news bulletin we'll hear from students about their views on this story.

     
  52.  
    08:47: Council to set 2015/16 budget Liverpool Echo

    tweets: Big day for #Liverpool Council today - the budget for the next year will be set

     
  53.  
    08:35: Staff paid more than £100k by university

    The University of Liverpool is the only institution in Merseyside to pay more than 100 staff members a salary of more than £100,000, according to a Freedom of Information request by the University and College Union.

    Liverpool University

    It also found the University of Liverpool's former Vice Chancellor Sir Howard Newby spent more than £40,000 on flights and accommodation last year.

    You can see the national picture of this story on BBC Education.

     
  54.  
    08:18: Rovers in relegation battle BBC Radio Merseyside

    Tranmere owner Mark Palios (pictured) says he is "in it for the long haul" as the club faces a battle for League Two survival.

    The team lost 2-1 away at Wycombe Wanderers last night. leaving Rovers one spot above the relegation places.

    Tranmere owner Mark Palios

    Owner Mark Palios says he knows the fans have a right to have their say even though they booed the players off the pitch.

     
  55.  
    08:07: Today's forecast

    A cold start with some showers, these most frequent in the north of the region.

    Sara Blizzard

    Showers will gradually clear through the day leaving most places fine. Winds will become lighter, making it feel less cold in the sunshine. High of 7C (44F).

     
  56.  
    08:00: News on the hour Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Our top story in the news at 08:00: The amount Liverpool University's former vice chancellor spent on flights and expenses last year topped £40,000, according to a new report.

    The University and Colleges Union surveyed more than a 150 institutions.

     
  57.  
    08:00: Good morning Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    I'll be bringing you the very latest news, sport, travel and weather for Merseyside today.

    If you'd like to get in touch with me today, email or tweet @BBCMerseyside

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.