Hillsborough inquests: Jury 'must resolve the conflict'

people and ambulance on hillsborough pitch
Image caption The inquests into the deaths of 96 fans are the longest in UK legal history

The jury at the Hillsborough inquests will have to "resolve the conflict" in evidence from police officers and spectators, according to the coroner.

Sir John Goldring has started to sum up the events of the day of the 1989 disaster, when a crush at a FA Cup match led to the deaths of 96 fans.

Some officers were "critical" of fans' behaviour but many supporters gave "very different" accounts, he said.

The jury is due to retire later in February.

Ninety-six spectators died after crushing at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground.

When the jury is sent out, they will be asked to answer a 14-section questionnaire, with question seven asking: "Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?"

If jurors answer yes, they will then consider if that behaviour was "unusual or unforeseeable".

'Hugely controversial'

The inquests have heard how - before the crush - there had been a dangerous build-up outside the turnstiles used by Liverpool supporters at the Leppings Lane end.

An exit gate was opened at 14:52 BST - eight minutes before the scheduled kick-off - allowing about 2,000 fans to enter the ground over the next five minutes.

Sir John said the jury would be asked about whether police "errors or omissions" and the behaviour of supporters caused or contributed to the "dangerous situation" outside the turnstiles.

"A number of police officers who were in the Leppings Lane area gave evidence which was critical of the behaviour of the supporters there," he said.

"By contrast, many supporters gave evidence to very different effect that they and their fellow fans behaved normally and sensibly.

"This is a hugely controversial part of the evidence of the day and you will have to make your own decisions as to what you accept and what you reject.

"You will have to resolve the conflict."

The jury was also reminded of how police officers' accounts of the disaster were originally drawn up and then put through a process of "review and amendment" by senior South Yorkshire Police officers and the force's lawyers.

Sir John said the bereaved families' legal teams had "put it to the key witnesses that co-ordinated efforts were being made to manipulate the evidence and present a false narrative of the disaster", but that the officers "denied they had done anything improper".

"You will take your own view about the motivations of those officers involved," he said.

The inquests continue.

Who were the 96 victims?

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