Hillsborough trial: Right decision to open

Hillsborough Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption About 2000 Liverpool fans entered the stadium when an exit gate was opened at 14:52 GMT

An order to open an exit gate at Hillsborough by the match commander was the right decision "at that moment", a policing expert has told a court.

Douglas Hopkins told Preston Crown Court David Duckenfield had "little option" by that time because of overcrowding outside Hillsborough.

The jury has already heard about 2,000 Liverpool fans entered the stadium when an exit gate was opened at 14:52 GMT.

Mr Duckenfield denies gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.

'Didn't prepare'

Sheffield Wednesday's ex-club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, denies safety offences.

Mr Hopkins giving evidence for a second day told the jury it was a "fundamental error" to put Mr Duckenfield, now 74, in charge of the 1989 FA Cup semi final.

He said the previous match commander Brian Mole should have been in charge, because of Mr Duckenfield's lack of experience.

Under cross examination by Benjamin Myers QC, Mr Hopkins - a former match commander with the Metropolitan Police - accepted the clash between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was "almost a learning experience" for Mr Duckenfield but added he "didn't prepare himself properly for the game".

The witness was also questioned about the build up of a crowd outside the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.

The court heard it was 14:47 when a request was made by an officer outside the ground to open an exit gate.

Mr Hopkins said it should have taken Mr Duckenfield between 15 seconds to a minute, saying it was a "decision which needed to be made quickly".

When asked again if it was the right decision, he replied "at that moment, yes sir," but added arrangements should have been made for the people coming in.

'Through the tunnel'

The jury was shown a transcript of evidence that Mr Duckenfield, from Ferndown, Dorset, gave to the inquests in Warrington in 2015.

He told the inquest that he thought fans would gather themselves on the concourse and take a moment or two to recover.

Mr Hopkins said: "I don't think any policeman would believe those people arriving on the concourse would stay there; they wanted to see the match.

"The only way fans were getting on to that terrace was through that tunnel."

The trial continues.

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