David Duckenfield: A Man Whose Actions Killed 96 People Is Still Walking Free



image: The Liverpool Echo

The man in the photo above is David Duckenfield. He was the police commander in charge at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15th 1989 when Nottingham Forest played Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.

For 27 years Duckenfield has lied about what happened that day, a day when 96 people went out to watch a football match and never came home. Over 700 were injured, some of them seriously enough to change their lives forever. The age range of the dead was 10 to 67, a cross-section of people who wanted nothing more than to support their team.

Police officers who were their that day made statements, many of them criticising their commanders for giving unclear and often unsound commands. It was one of those commands in particular, given by Duckenfield, to open gate ‘C’ that ultimately caused overcrowding in the central pen. The rush of people who came through the gate and down the tunnel into the central pen pushed those already there into the solid metal fencing around the pen, fencing designed to be strong enough to keep rival fans apart.



The push from the back forced the crowd ever forward and 96 people near the front of that crowd were crushed to death.

Those statements handed in by officers that were on duty were clear in what they were saying, but it has been proved that they were changed at the highest level of the South Yorkshire Police Force. In all, 200 witnesses had their statements changed. None of them knew that their statements were changed until the recent inquest where their words were read out and comparisons made between original copies and altered versions of the statements.

The police commander that day insisted that the Liverpool fans were rioting, invading the pitch, he called for police dogs rather than ambulances. People who managed to escape told him that there were problems, that ‘somebody was going to die’ if the police didn’t act. Only then did he look into what was actually going on, only then did he call the ambulances but only three made it to the pitch, the rest were instructed to wait outside the ground, which they did, whilst people lay dying on the pitch. For the three ambulances that did get through there was little that could be done.

By then it was too late.

Duckenfield has admitted he lied under oath at a previous inquest. He has admitted that he made mistakes and that his actions lead to the death of the 96 who died. He has admitted when the original inquest called the deaths accidental he knew that wasn’t the case and he continued with the line that drunken fans had caused the disaster. All the time he knew it was caused by incompetence and that the fans were not to blame but still he said nothing.

Police officers that had been there and other first responders spoke with the relatives and little by little the call for a new inquest became a shout, and then a demand. Their request was finally granted two years ago, 25 years after the event.

Finally, at last, the whole truth came out. The police caused the deaths, and one police officer in particular with his bad judgement calls and denial of what was happening finally admitted he was accountable. That he’d not listened to what he was being told, that he made a desperate situation into a deadly one, and that he lied, and he did so under oath.

Why is this man at home with his family tonight?

The heads of the emergency services in Sheffield colluded with Duckenfield to withhold the truth, to cover their backs and continue the lie that the fans were to blame. They said ambulances arrived promptly when in fact they arrived almost an hour after the crush, that casualties were treated there and then, on the pitch, which was also proven to be a lie.

It has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt that 47 of the 96 dead would have survived with prompt medical treatment.

The accidental death verdict is no more. The official verdict into the death of the 96 is unlawful killing and that David Duckenfield is:

“responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence due to a breach in his duty of care”.


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