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Safety failings contributed to risk of danger for fans, says QC

Miscalculating the safe crowd capacity, failure to monitor the number of people in pens and the build-up of spectators at turnstiles all led to danger for fans at Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield, the inquests into the 96 deaths in the disaster have heard.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing families of victims, said these key factors contributed to a serious risk on the Leppings Lane terraces where the Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

Mr Mansfield put a series of propositions to stadium expert John Cutlack, a structural engineer asked to give his opinion at the hearing in Warrrington.

It follows weeks of evidence from witnesses from those responsible for safety at the ground.

Mr Cutlack agreed with Mr Mansfield there had been a serious miscalculation of the capacity of the Leppings Lane terrace, with the maximum safe number of fans being 5426 - when the safety certificate allowed 7200.

The witness confirmed there was a failure to rectify the limit in the decade before the disaster on April 15, 1989, when Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at the ground.

Mr Cutlack agreed there was a failure to put in place a system to monitor numbers of fans going into the separate pens on the Leppings Lane terrace, and that there were too few turnstiles.

The inquest has heard 10,100 Liverpool fans had tickets for seven turnstiles, or 1443 per turnstile -when the safe limit was 750 fans per hour. It would have taken the Liverpool fans two hours to get through the turnstiles and into the ground for the 3pm kick-off but normally more than half arrived just 20 minutes before kick-off.

The inquest continues.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

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