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Police ‘promised to divert fans’ to avoid overcrowding

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A former fire safety officer has told the Hillsborough trial that police promised to divert spectators to other areas if terraces at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium became overcrowded.

Ronald Grimshaw was responsible in the years leading up to the 1989 disaster for advising the South Yorkshire fire service on emergency evacuation at the ground.

He told the trial of former police match commander David Duckenfield that a number of assurances were given by South Yorkshire Police about manning the Leppings Lane stand in the event of overcrowding.

Police match commander David Duckenfield is charged with the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans
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Police match commander David Duckenfield is charged with the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans

He said: “They assured us that if there was any danger of over-density in these areas, that they would close the entrance (tunnel) off and divert spectators around to the ends of the stand.”

Mr Grimshaw was asked about perimeter gates in the fence at the front of the Leppings Lane stand (West Stand).

He told jurors that no-one on the stadium safety committee ever considered using the gates for the “forward evacuation” of large numbers of fans on to the pitch.

The ex-South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 people who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
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The stadium safety committee were said to be aware that gates were not wide enough

Mr Grimshaw was also asked about gates in the perimeter fences at the front of the Leppings Lane terrace.

He said that everyone on the safety committee was aware that the gates were not wide enough to meet safety standards at the time of the disaster, but South Yorkshire Police were “happy” with them as they were.

Mr Duckenfield denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool football supporters.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.

Former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell denies contravening safety laws.

Fans were crushed in the tragedy during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

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