Expolice chief responsible for extraordinarily bad failures that led to Hillsborough disaster

Duckenfield appears in court alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, of Stocking Pelham, Hertfordshire, who is charged with contravening a term or condition of the stadium’s safety certificate and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act. The case, due to last until May, opened after the judge, Sir Peter Openshaw, made a lengthy and strict order for jurors to ignore what they may have heard of read about the high profile case.”What any of you have heard in the past is entirely irrelevant to your task,” the judge said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Crown then described how Duckenfield was the most senior police officer at the match and he “grossly failed to discharge his personal responsibility for the safety of deceased”.Mr Matthews added: “With that role, came not just ultimate responsibility for the police operation on the 15th April to secure the safe arrival, entry and accommodation of those 50,000 fans at the Hillsborough Stadium, but personal responsibility to take reasonable care for the arrangements that were put in place, to take reasonable care in the command of those beneath him and to take reasonable care in the orders he gave and decisions he took.”It is the prosecution’s case that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.”It is the prosecution’s case that each of those who died did so as a result of participation in the wholly innocent activity of attending a football match as a spectator on the 15th April 1989; each died as a consequence of the obvious and serious risk to life posed by crushing from poor management of the expected capacity crowd seeking admission to watch the match; and each died as a result of the extraordinarily bad failures by David Duckenfield in the care he took to discharge his personal responsibility on that fateful day.” David Duckenfield, a former South Yorkshire Police chief, was responsible for “extraordinarily bad” failures which led to the loss of life of 96 wholly innocent fans during the Hillsborough disaster almost 30 years ago, a court has heard.A jury of six men and six women were told how he was criminally responsible for 95 of those victims because of his  “gross failure” as match-day commander for Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.Nobody monitored numbers or safety in the build up to the tragedy, which led to fans getting crushed after Duckenfield failed in his duty to safeguard spectators, Preston Crown Court heard.Opening the Crown’s case, the lead barrister Richard Matthews QC told the jury of six men and six women there should have been “nothing extraordinary” about that FA cup semi-final match.Instead, he said, “there was an extraordinary series of collective and personal failures on the part of very many, if not all, of those who were responsible for the planning, organisation and management of the arrival, entry and accommodation of the 50,000 fans at the Hillsborough Stadium”.He added: “Sadly, there were also many collective and individual failures to intervene effectively once the disaster unfolded, not least through the failure of anyone in a position to do so, Mr Duckenfield included, to declare the situation a ‘major incident’ in good time, to put in place emergency measures to release those trapped and to organise and provide emergency medical attention, particularly attempts at resuscitation.” The QC added that it was “an extraordinarily bad failure to properly consider the planning, the preparation, the roles, the responsibilities and the command of those who, in the event, were left to cope with the results of what was the ill-considered and poorly arranged, but easily identifiable, arrival of very many thousands of people a relatively short time before the scheduled kick-off”.Far too many people were allowed to enter, the barrister added, “into a terribly confined space, in circumstances where no one was charged with monitoring numbers for safety and where those in a position to attempt to alleviate the inevitable crush, had been given strict orders to keep access gates onto the pitch closed, only to open them by express command of a senior officer.”Seven men and seven women were selected from a panel of 29 at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday to serve as a jury of 12, with two extra people who will sit through the case opening.The former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent, 74, of Bournemouth, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused. David Duckenfield arrives at Preston Crown CourtCredit:Jon Super/MGO David Duckenfield arrives at Preston Crown Court