Hillsborough match commander tight-lipped over inquest verdict


The match commander on the day of the Hillsborough disaster has declined to comment following the inquest jury's unlawful killing conclusion.

Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield could face criminal proceedings over the deaths and has already been interviewed under criminal caution.

The jurors at the inquests ruled that the 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed after being told by the coroner they could reach that conclusion only if they were satisfied that Mr Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died, that he was in breach of that duty of care, that his breach caused the deaths and that it amounted to "gross negligence".

Approached by a BBC news crew at San Francisco airport and asked for his "reaction to things", Mr Duckenfield said: "At the present time, due to the ongoing criminal inquiries, I'm afraid that I am unable to comment, and I hope you'll excuse me."

Asked if he had a message for the families, he said: "I've said what I've got to say at the moment."

He added: "When I was at the coroner's court in Warrington I gave a message and I have nothing more to say. I hope you'll excuse me."

When asked at the inquests if his negligence caused the disaster, he said he would not use that word and instead classed it as an "oversight".

Mr Duckenfield landed at Heathrow with his wife on a flight from San Francisco and was met by a taxi driver holding up a sign for "Mr and Mrs Salisbury", according to the Daily Mirror.

The newspaper said Mr Duckenfield refused to answer questions over whether he is expecting to be prosecuted.

According to the Mirror, he said: "At the Hillsborough inquest I expressed my profound sympathy for the deceased and their families.

"I apologised for the mistakes that I had made but I am sure you understand that it would not be appropriate for me to say any more while the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the matter."

The Hillsborough disaster unfolded during Liverpool's cup tie against Nottingham Forest on April 15 1989 as thousands of fans were crushed at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, allowing around 2,000 fans to flood into the already packed central pens behind the goal.

A range of individuals and organisations could face charges over Hillsborough.

Possible offences include gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, perjury and misconduct in a public office, according to former director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald.

No decisions are expected before the end of the year.