Hillsborough PC's 'not enough room' comment 'removed'

Police control box Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption PC Harold Guest monitored the football club's camera system

A police officer's recollection that it was "obvious" a crowd outside Hillsborough stadium would not fit inside was removed from his statement, inquests have heard.

PC Harold Guest monitored the number of fans entering through the turnstiles.

The jury heard he had noted there would "not be sufficient room" for all the fans entering via Leppings Lane.

But that line was removed after South Yorkshire Police received "legal advice", the inquests heard.

He also recalled seeing fans "pushing violently" while outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles, a "large contingent" of fans climbing the walls of the turnstiles and "several missiles being thrown towards the police".

The inquests are being held in Warrington into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters who went to the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground on April 15, 1989.

Mr Guest, who also monitored the football club's camera system, has not appeared in person at the inquests, but statements he made in 1989 and a transcript of his evidence to Lord Justice Taylor's public inquiry have been read to the jury.

Sheffield Wednesday had a computer system linked to Hillsborough's turnstiles, which counted the number of fans coming through.

The ground was divided into sections and running totals appeared on screens in the club's control room.

'Near to capacity'

When each area was 85% full, the figures started to flash or "pulsate".

In a 1989 statement read to the jury, Mr Guest referred to noticing the build-up outside the ground after 14:40 BST on 15 April.

He said: "I could see that the fans were spread from the turnstile entrance right back in to Leppings Lane fully blocking the road.

"I would estimate that there would be between 3,000 and 5,000 fans.

"I made a check on the computer and saw that the figures for the West Stand were pulsating and showing near to capacity and the Leppings Lane figures were showing approximately 7,000, which would be near capacity and the computer would be at a point to start pulsating."

The jury was told that an earlier version of the statement then included this paragraph: "I think it was obvious that looking at the crowd outside trying to get in, there would not be sufficient room for all to be accommodated."

But that did not appear in the later version, the inquests heard.

Jonathan Hough QC, one of the counsel to the inquests, said the phrase "the Leppings Lane figures were showing approximately 7,000" had also been changed. It originally said "in excess of 7,000".

The jury then heard extracts from the evidence Mr Guest gave to the 1989 public inquiry.

He told Lord Justice Taylor: "I estimated when I first looked at the crowd outside there was somewhere in the region of of approximately 3,000.

"Obviously the West Stand was pulsating, it was not to capacity but exactly what the figure was, I would not like to say, but it was not near to capacity.

"Leppings Lane was somewhere in the region of approximately 3,000 away from capacity, which meant in my opinion that the people that were still wanting to get in to the ground, there would be room and sufficient room for them to get in that part of the ground."

'Could not communicate'

Mr Guest was asked about the apparent contradiction between his earlier statement and his evidence to the Taylor Inquiry.

He denied that he "knew there was going to be a crush inside the ground".

He said that when he estimated the size of the crowd at 14:40 BST it was about 3,000 strong. At that time the stadium could accommodate those supporters but the crowd outside was "increasing tremendously" every minute.

By the time exit gate C had been opened to relieve the build-up of fans outside, Mr Guest could not communicate with the police control box, he said.

He said he could not get through on either the personal radio or by telephoning through.

The inquests continue.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites