Liverpool

Hillsborough inquests: Crucial police message 'vanished'

A note of a request from officers at Hillsborough, which would have stopped fans entering central pens, "vanished from the record", the inquests into the disaster have heard.

The radio message was from police near the Leppings Lane turnstiles calling for gates at the back of a tunnel to the pens to be shut.

But it was left out of subsequent logs.

Ninety-six fans died following the crush in the pens, when an exit gate was opened at Hillsborough in 1989.

The jury at the inquests in Warrington was shown a log typed by former PC Trevor Bichard from 16 April, the day after the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The request, logged at 14:55 GMT by the CCTV operator in the police control box, said: "From officers at rear of Leppings Lane terrace shut the gates at the back of the tunnel."

Mr Bichard, working in the CCTV room, said he made a note of the message

But mention of the request did not appear in Mr Bichard's second version of his log, written sometime between 16 April and his statement on 2 May.

The jury was told that the original document was available to the Taylor Inquiry into the disaster in 1989, but when Mr Bichard gave evidence at the hearing he said the tunnel was not mentioned in the police control box.

Brenda Campbell, a barrister representing a group of Hillsborough families, said when Mr Bichard was previously interviewed, he told officers the tunnel was "never mentioned, never discussed, never considered verbally".

Ms Campbell asked him: "Under whose orders did you leave it out from your other version?"

Mr Bichard replied: "Nobody's".

He told the jury a handwritten tick next to the message suggested it had been entered into the later log.

Ms Campbell then asked: "Under whose orders did you lie to Lord Justice Taylor, eight weeks later?"

Mr Bichard said: "I've never lied. I've always had honestly held beliefs.

"I'm not saying that I'm right with everything, but my beliefs have always been honestly held."

Ms Campbell said Mr Bichard told Lord Justice Taylor the tunnel "just didn't enter his mind".

She asked him how he explained the lies to Lord Justice Taylor and the original inquests.

Mr Bichard replied: "I can't explain it at all."

Retired PC Trevor Bichard, one of five officers who were in the control room, is continuing to give evidence at the inquests.

He told the jury on Monday no-one inside the box was monitoring the central pens where the crush took place.

The inquests continue.

The request asked for gates behind the Leppings Lane terrace to be closed

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