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Hillsborough inquest: Match police chief David Duckenfield admits failure to close tunnel 'directly caused all 96 deaths'

BY HEATHER SAUL

The Hillsborough police match commander has conceded that his decision not to close a tunnel at the 1989 football game directly caused the deaths of 96 people.

David Duckenfield accepted that his failure to close the tunnel "was the direct cause of the deaths of 96 people".

He also accepted that he “froze” during the afternoon of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final match, the BBC reports.

Up to 2,000 fans entered Gate C, with many heading straight for a tunnel in front of them which Mr Duckenfield had not ordered to be closed and then on to the already full central pens on the terrace which led to the fatal crushing.

The comments came as he was being questioned by Paul Greaney QC on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales on the sixth day of the Warrington inquests.

He had earlier denied "bottling it" and freezing as the deadly crush began.

However, he insisted he had no idea fans would go straight for a tunnel in front of them which Mr Duckenfield had arranged to be closed and then on to the already full central pens on the terrace which led to the fatal crushing.

Mr Greaney said: "The other possibility that I put to you is that you did at the time know much more about the geography of that ground and you are seeking to conceal that knowledge from this jury."

Mr Duckenfield replied: "I can assure you, sir, I had no idea where fans would go from A to G (turnstiles) or the opening of Gate C."

The retired officer replied: "Sir, I think it is fair to say that we were all in a state of shock."

Mr Greaney continued: "You were the one whose job it was to get past any feelings of shock, do you agree?"

Mr Duckenfield replied "Yes, sir - but I am human."

Earlier, Mr Duckenfield agreed with Mr Greaney that it would be "disgraceful" and "cowardly" to try to shift blame for his own failings to officers under his own command.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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