Liverpool

'No order' to blame Liverpool fans, Hillsborough police inspector says

Turnstiles at the Hillsborough stadium
A former South Yorkshire Police inspector said a delayed kick-off had "occurred" to him

A former South Yorkshire Police inspector has told the Hillsborough inquests he was not ordered to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

Stephen Ellis said he was "never" given verbal or written instructions, or a "wink and a nod", to describe fans as drunk, turning up late or ticketless.

Ninety-six fans died following a crush at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

Mr Ellis said requesting a delayed kick-off had "occurred" to him but it was not his responsibility.

"I was quite satisfied that somebody else would have done it or maybe it had already been done, but at the end of the day that's the ground commander's responsibility. He was overseeing things," he said.

The match commander on the day was Supt David Duckenfield.

'Blame the fans'

The inquests heard Mr Ellis, who was in charge of officers meeting Liverpool fans as they arrived in Sheffield, did not attend a meeting after the disaster on 16 or 17 April, where a "policy was formed to blame fans".

Christopher Williams, who represents a group of Hillsborough families, asked: "Did you receive any written instructions to put the blame on Liverpool fans in the way I have just described: drunk, late arrivals, ticketless?"

Mr Ellis replied: "No sir... In fact, never in my career have I received any instructions of that nature."

Mr Williams asked: "Not in writing. What about verbal instructions - were you given the nod and the wink?"

Mr Ellis said: "Never sir."

Mr Williams asked: "Blame the Liverpool fans - say they arrived late?"

"Categorically no," Mr Ellis replied.

Mr Williams added: "Say they went to the pub in droves and that's what made them arrive late?"

Mr Ellis replied: "Nobody tells me what to do with my evidence."

Mr Williams asked: "And turn up without tickets?"

"No sir, categorically no," Mr Ellis replied.

'Very hostile'

He was shown CCTV footage at the Leppings Lane turnstiles at 14:01, 14:15, 14:29 and 14:40, showing the build up of the crowd outside.

Mr Ellis said police had not lost control of the ground at 14:30, the inquests heard.

Watching the footage for the first time Mr Ellis said: "Looking at the videos, I would say maybe it started to build up at 14:30, but it's difficult for me to say what somebody else would have done.

"At that time had they got more officers there and realised what was coming, then maybe we could have controlled it," he said.

Mr Ellis told the inquests the crowd was "very hostile" after the disaster and there was a "real danger of a public order situation developing".

The inquests continue.

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