Hillsborough Inquests: Senior officer Roger Greenwood denies incompetence

The senior officer in charge of policing inside Hillsborough has denied claims he showed "incompetence on a grand scale" during the disaster.

Former Supt Roger Greenwood was giving evidence for a third day at the inquests into the deaths of 96 fans.

Mark George QC, who represents a group of families of those who died, said he "wasted vital minutes" in stopping the game, which "may have cost lives".

Mr Greenwood said he stood by his decision not to stop the game earlier.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died following the crush at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest semi-final on 15 April 1989.

'Cost lives'

Mr George told the new inquests into their deaths at Warrington, Cheshire it had taken three and a half minutes for Mr Greenwood to realise how serious the situation was inside on the terraces and for him to stop the match.

Mr George said: "You wasted vital minutes... between your arrival at that fence and your decision to stop the [game], which may have cost lives."

Mr Greenwood replied: "In my view it was an honest judgement. I have told you that and I stand by that to this day."

Mr George said Mr Greenwood's "contribution that afternoon was a shambles from start to finish" and he "showed a total failure of leadership".

The retired officer said: "You are very wrong sir and it's regrettable that you use those words."

'Concentration on rescue'

Earlier barrister Stephen Simblet, representing some other families who lost loved ones, said to Mr Greenwood he showed a "failure" in "leadership".

Mr Greenwood replied: "I sit here in peace... as far as I'm concerned my concentration was on the rescue and the saving of life and I believe we did so."

Mr Simblet also said he had tried to shift the blame on to the fans' behaviour in a debriefing meeting with the chief constable the day after the disaster.

Mr Greenwood disagreed. "I have no wish whatsoever to try to blame. As far as I'm concerned, I didn't fail.

"I wish that there was more that we could do but I don't accept your point at all."

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Image caption Supt Greenwood with the referee Ray Lewis on the pitch

The inquests also heard Hillsborough stadium's experienced match commander, who was transferred weeks before the disaster, had offered to police the game but was turned down.

Margaret Topley, who was married to the late Ch Supt Brian Mole at the time of the tragedy, told the inquests he offered to command the match in place of his replacement David Duckenfield who had not policed a sell out FA Cup semi-final match before.

The inquests continue.

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