Hillsborough jurors must 'ignore' claim gate was forced

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Image source, PA/Reuters
Image caption, David Duckenfield and Graham Mackrell both deny the charges against them

The judge at the Hillsborough trial has told the jury to ignore claims made at the time of the disaster that Liverpool fans forced open a gate at the stadium.

Sir Peter Openshaw told the jury of six men and six women at Preston Crown Court they will be sent out to consider their verdicts on Monday.

Match commander David Duckenfield denies gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans, on 15 April 1989.

The judge also said no evidence of hooliganism had been presented.

Judge Openshaw told the jury the build up to the FA Cup semi final had been described as a "carnival atmosphere."

One fan had said the mood was "boisterous, but jovial," while a former police officer had said he was amazed the crowds were so orderly.

The judge said: "Some fans went off for a drink, but you heard no evidence of drunkenness or hooliganism on the day."

He also made a reference to evidence given by the prosecution's police expert Douglas Hopkins, who had remarked about the unusual arrival pattern of supporters, and said "that is plainly relevant when you come to consider if the build up was foreseeable."

Image caption, The people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

During the trial, the FA's former head of media relations Glen Kirton recalled how Mr Duckenfield told FA officials a gate had been forced by the fans.

But the judge told the jury: "I direct you in clear terms what Mr Duckenfield said to Mr Kirton after the match has no significance in the case at all, you should put it out of your mind."

Former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, denies a health and safety offence related to the number of turnstiles allocated to Liverpool supporters for the match.

The court was adjourned until Monday, when members of the jury are expected to start their deliberations.

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