Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield 'had chance' to change match plan

David Duckenfield Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Duckenfield was the match commander at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield "had the opportunity" to change the police planning for the game, a court has heard.

Former South Yorkshire Police inspector Stephen Sewell told Preston Crown Court most preparations were complete by the time Mr Duckenfield was promoted to Chief Superintendent.

However, he could "alter anything if he wished", Mr Sewell said.

Mr Duckenfield denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans.

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died following a crush in the Leppings Lane terrace at the FA Cup Semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

The court heard Mr Duckenfield had taken up his new role just weeks before, on March 27 1989.

Mr Sewell, who was involved in the planning for the game, agreed that the operational order was based largely on the operational order for the 1988 semi-final.

Both teams had played each other at the same venue, and those plans were regarded a success, he said.

The court heard there was a reduction in police manpower for the 1989 match.

'Must have read it'

There were no specific instructions in the order for monitoring the number of fans in pens on the terrace, manning the exit gates to the ground or for contingency plans for supporters arriving late in large numbers, the court heard.

Asked if Mr Duckenfield, 75, made any significant changes to the order once he took on the role, Mr Sewell said: "No. Mr Duckenfield would have had the opportunity to alter anything if he wished."

He accepted the plans had been largely based on those drawn up by Mr Duckenfield's predecessor, Ch Supt Brian Mole, as well as Ch Insp David Beal and Supt Bernard Murray.

Defence barrister Benjamin Myers QC asked Mr Sewell if he would expect a new commander to make changes to the order.

"Possibly not, but he had the opportunity," he replied, going on to add: "Mr Duckenfield signed it, so he must have read it first."

The trial continues.

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

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