Of course, I was familiar with Superintendent Marshall's request for exit gates to be opened.
And Chief Superintendent Duckenfield's failure to ensure that the gates into the tunnel leading to Pens 3 and 4 were closed.
But it seemed to me that both the Taylor Inquiry and the Hillsborough Independent Panel failed to get to the bottom of "why" the crowd built up to chaotic proportions.
In other words what was the "trigger" for the chaotic crowds at Leppings Lane.
Of course, I was familiar with the South Yorkshire Police stories of masses of drunk Liverpool fans arriving "late". But, as the Hillsborough Independent Panel pointed out, the evidence to support the South Yorkshire Police allegations was virtually non-existent.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the widespread South Yorkshire Police stories about late arriving fans may be false and, worse, may have been deliberately falsified.
A better explanation of the "trigger" for the Hillsborough disaster seems to me to lie in the failures of Serial 19, under the command of Inspector Gordon Sykes.
I recently wrote to Rachel Cerfontyne, Deputy Chair of the IPCC and Lord Justice Goldring about the failure of Serial 19 to comply with the primary requirement of them of the Operational Order that applied in 1989 at Hillsborough.
It seems to me that the failures of Serial 19 to understand and implement the Operational Order is a trigger of the Hillsborough disaster and may, in fact, be THE trigger of the disaster.
Here is the meat of the letter I sent to Ms. Cerfontyne and Lord Justice Goldring on 3rd March 2014.
I copied the letter to Detective Chief Inspector Foster of South Yorkshire Police. Worryingly, despite the importance of the issues raised in my letter, Detective Chief Inspector Foster refused to record a "conduct matter.".
Neither the IPCC nor Lord Justice Goldring has replied as yet.
3rd March 2014Rachel Cerfontyne, IPCCLord Justice Goldring, Hillsborough InquestsDear Ms. Cerfontyne and Lord Justice GoldringThe Hillsborough Disaster and its causationThe potentially pivotal role of Serial 19Conduct matters: Inspector Gordon Sykes and othersI write to draw to your respective attentions an issue of considerable potential importance to the Hillsborough Inquests which, so far as I’m aware, is not under investigation.I refer to failures by Serial 19 to comply with the Operational Order.Further, apart from a very brief mention in the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report (paragraph 1.66), the issue has not, so far as I can establish, been considered in depth by the Taylor Inquiry nor by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.It seems to me that the actions or, more specifically, the failures to act of Serial 19 may be a pivotal issue in the correct understanding of the causation of the Hillsborough Disaster.I do not suggest that it is the only factor in the causation of the disaster but it is, so it seems to me, an essential difference between the factors operating at the semi-finals in 1988 and 1989. Other relevant factors appear to apply roughly equally in both years.The pivotal importance of the issueIt seems to me likely that the failure of Serial 19 to comply with the Operational Order may fairly be considered the genesis of the Hillsborough Disaster.In paragraph 1.66 of the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report we read the following:on approaching the ground spectators recalled being requested by police officers to show their ticketsin 1988.In 1988 fans reported being stopped some distance outside the perimeter gates on Leppings Lane. Tickets were checked and orderly queues (as specified in the 1988 Operational Order - see page 115 re the assigned tasks for Serial 19),This serial will located be at Leppings Lane and ensurethat orderly queues form. They will assist otherSerials at this location as required and in the eventof vehicles, coaches, etc. arriving, supervise theirunloading.formed, as organised by the Police.The beneficial effect in 1988 of that approach by the Police was the creation of orderly queues and the prevention or mitigation of any crush in the turnstile area inside the perimeter gates at Leppings Lane.In 1989 no such proactive systematic intervention in checking tickets (at some distance from the perimeter gates) was undertaken by the Police, so far as I can establish.Had, in 1989, the Police followed the pattern described by fans in 1988 the crush near the turnstiles would, in all likelihood have been significantly less with, potentially the absence of any need to open Gates A to C to relieve that crush.In other words, if Serial 19 had done its job the Hillsborough Disaster would very likely not have happened and many, perhaps all, of the 96 who died would have returned home that night after watching an exciting FA Cup semi-final.Failure to comply with the Operational Order in 1989In 1989 the Operational Order for Serial 19 (page 35 of combined Operational Order document) stated the following:This serial will be located at Leppings Lane andensure that orderly queues form. They vill assistother serials at this location as required and inthe event of vehicles, coaches, arriving, supervisetheir unloading.The wording is identical to the 1988 wording.It can be seen that the primary task assigned to Serial 19 in the 1989 Operational Order was to “ensure that orderly queues form”.The assigned primary task wasn’t carried out, so far as I can ascertain.That failure by Serial 19 is, in large measure, due to a failure by Inspector Gordon Sykes. At least that’s how it appears to me.The briefing by Inspector Gordon SykesIn page 2 of his statement, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000002300001.pdf, Inspector Sykes described the responsibilities of Serial 19 in these words:serial 19 - supervised by PS Proctor were to be used as coachreception and supervise the fans entering the ground.Notice that Inspector Sykes makes no mention of the primary responsibility of Serial 19 – to ensure the formation of orderly queues.Inspector Sykes later stated (page 2 of his statement),I told serial 19 they had a virtual roving commission as per thematch order and to generally assist wherever they were needed.Again, there is no specific mention that the primary task of Serial 19 is to ensure that orderly queues form.The effect of the briefing, as described in Inspector Sykes statement, is to leave the members of Serial 19 unaware of the primary task assigned in the Operational Order.That failure of Inspector Sykes was potentially fatal, since no member of Serial 19 in 1989 had been a member of Serial 19 at the 1988 semi-final (Compare pages 35 and 115 of the combined Operational Order document).In 1988 Sergeant Tissington had been in charge of Serial 19 but had a different role in 1989.The fact that Superintendent Greenwood and Superintendent Marshall had in 1989 swapped roles also meant that, at Superintendent level, there was no continuity of awareness of the 1988 practice of systematically checking tickets at some distance from the perimeter gates.The statements of members of Serial 19I have examined the statements of each of the 11 members of Serial 19 to establish whether or not there was any awareness of the primary task of ensuring that orderly queues form.The members of Serial 19 on 15th April 1989 were the following:PS 323 ProctorPC 611 BoothPC 2963 SinghPC 1124 PrattPC 2902 RobertsPC 3249 JacksonPC 2333 EnglishPC 276 RobinsonPC 2530 LockleyPC 3135 Burnlees (not “Burnless” as in the Operational Order)PC 776 GlavesSergeant Proctor in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000001930001.pdf,described the duties of Serial 19 in these words:Our brief was to maintain order outside the turnstiles, to assist other Serials as required, and to search and supervise the unloading of vehicles and coaches arriving at the ground These instructions were duties which most of the Serial and myself had carried out all season.Sergeant Proctor gave evidence to the Taylor Inquiry, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000025990001.pdf.The following exchange is relevant:Q. Serial 19, I think, Sergeant Proctor? - A. That is correct,sir.Q. And we have heard that effectively had a roving commissionoutside the gates, and we have seen its duties from the Order.Is that right? - A. That is correct, sir.PC Booth in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000064940001.pdfstated,We were instructed to carry out selective searches of fans outside the ground and to search any vehicles that were carrying Liverpool supporters and depositing them at the ground.PC Singh in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000112440001.pdfstatedOur duties were initially outside the ground at the Leppings Lane entrances, supervising arriving Liverpool supporters, receiving and searching arriving coaches and general public order duties.PC Pratt in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000111090001.pdfstatedOur duties were outside the ground and were to supervise the arrival of the Liverpool supporters in and around the turnstile area.PC Roberts in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000008880001.pdfmakes no mention of the briefing nor his awareness of his duties.I was unable to locate any statement by PC 3249 Jackson.PC English in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000064980001.pdf,mentions a briefing by Inspector Sykes but is not specific about its content.PC Robinson in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000111550001.pdfstated the following:Our duties were initially outside the ground, at the Leppings Lane entrances, supervising arriving Liverpool supporters, receiving and searching arriving coaches, and general public order duties. This duty was in fact the same as I and many of my colleagues perform at most football matches at Hillsborough, has been well tried and tested, and myself and, I am sure, the other officers present, were well aware of what was required.PC Lockley in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000064990001.pdfdescribed his duties in these words:Serial 19’s duties on the day were to search incoming coaches and maintain public order outside the groundPC Burnlees,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000000360001.pdf,states on page 1:Our brief was to receive fans at that. location and to maintain order and also to assist where possible; and if needed, other serials working on the turnstiles at Leppings Lane.and (pages 1 to 2)We were instructed to carry out selective searches of fans outside the ground and to search any vehicles that were carrying Liverpool supporters and depositing them at the ground.PC Burnlees also gave evidene to the Taylor Inquiry,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000025990001.pdf,On page 53 we read the following exchange:Q. Did you regard it as being part of your job to ask peopleif they had got tickets? - A. Yes, we did.Q. Did you do that on any organised basis? That is to say,by stopping everybody at a particular point, or on a morecasual basis? - A. It was more casual,PC Glaves in his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000069260001.pdf,gives the following initial description of the Serial’s duties:The serial was involved at this time in coach reception.In none of the statements did I find an awareness of the primary task assigned by the Operational Order – to ensure that orderly queues form.The statements by Sergeant Proctor and PC Robinson imply that they thought they knew the duties already. At least an element of complacency seems likely on their part.Too little too lateLate in the process some members of Serial 19 attempted to reduce the chaos in the area inside the perimeter gates.However, those efforts strenuous though they were could not and did not correct the effect of the earlier failures to carry out the primary task assigned to Serial 19 by the Operational Order.Possible Conduct Matters Serial 19As indicated earlier in this letter the following were the members of Serial 19 on 15th April 1989.PS 323 ProctorPC 611 BoothPC 2963 SinghPC 1124 PrattPC 2902 RobertsPC 3249 JacksonPC 2333 EnglishPC 276 RobinsonPC 2530 LockleyPC 3135 Burnlees (not “Burnless” as in the Operational Order)PC 776 GlavesIt seems to me that no member of Serial 19 carried out the duties of Serial 19 as specified in the Operational Order.If the IPCC takes the view that the sole responsibility for that lies with the seriously defective briefing given by Inspector Sykes it may be that the view is that only the conduct matter with respect to Inspector Sykes is relevant.However, I think that each officer must bear responsibility for awareness of and compliance with the Operational Order. Therefore I believe that a conduct matter, with respect to non-compliance with the Operational Order should be recorded against each of the 11 members of Serial 19 viz:PS 323 ProctorPC 611 BoothPC 2963 SinghPC 1124 PrattPC 2902 RobertsPC 3249 JacksonPC 2333 EnglishPC 276 RobinsonPC 2530 LockleyPC 3135 Burnlees (not “Burnless” as in the Operational Order)PC 776 GlavesThat, of course, is a matter for Chief Inspector Foster.Refusal of entry to stewardsIn his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000002300001.pdf,Inspector Sykes states the following:I then went back outside through Gate ' C ' , as I did so i was asked bythe gatemen on this gate for advice. They informed me that stewardsfrom Liverpool Football Club were seeking admission to the ground byshowing their stewards passes. Whilst the Sheffield Wednesdaystewards had allowed some access to the ground they believed tnestewards were then collecting the passes and taking them outside forother people to use. 1 told the stewards that if this was the casethen no more persons should be allowed access to the ground byshowing a stewards pass.At this time there was about 30 people outside Gate ’C ’ with stewardspasses. Some of these had children with them and were trying togain admission. They were all refused on my advice.I assume that there some tacit agreement that stewards at Anfield would, as some form of quid pro quo, be given free entry to Hillsborough.Be that as it may, it is clear that some 30 adults and an unspecified number of children who had an expectation (justified or otherwise) of gaining entry to Hillsborough were, at Inspector Sykes’ instruction, denied entry to the ground.The inevitable effect, I would suggest, is to add confused and directionless individuals to the melee developing outside the turnstiles.I ask that a conduct matter be recorded against Inspector Sykes with respect to this matter.“Throw her up here and we’ll fuck her”The above are the words indicated in the Sun of 19th April 1989.The officer who, with minor variations in different accounts, provided those words was Inspector Gordon Sykes. No other officer heard the alleged words.He gives one version of the story on page 8 of his statement,http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/HOM000002300001.pdf.He gives a slightly different version at the Joint Branch Board meeting on 19th April 1989. See page 4 of http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/TPF000000010001.pdf.It seems that Inspector Sykes provided an inflammatory story to the Press.I think that this should be recorded as a conduct matter.A separate question is whether the story he provided to the press is the truth or a lie.Given that there is no corroboration of what he allegedly heard the possibility that his story was an invention has to be given serious consideration.Given the video evidence it may be possible to establish whether Inspector Sykes did carry a young woman as described and which other officers were present. If the alleged inflammatory remark was made the statements of those officers merits close examination in my view.A further question is whether or not Inspector Sykes intended the inflammatory remarks placed in the media to be a smokescreen for what I believe to have been his own misconduct on 15th April 1989 with respect to the failures of Serial 19.If such was his intention, he was successful for some 24 years in diverting close attention from the failures of Serial 19.DistributionI view this letter as a public document.I am copying it to Detective Chief Inspector Foster of South Yorkshire Police with a view to his recording one or more “conduct matters” with respect to Inspector Gordon Sykes and the members of Serial 19 as specified in Paragraph 11 of Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002.Section 21(3) of the Police Reform ActI wish to be treated as an “interested person” in the meaning of Section 21(3) of the Police Reform Act 2002.I give my permission to being kept informed of progress in the investigation of this matter as specified in Section 21(3) of the Act.
Yours sincerely(Dr) Andrew Wattcc DCI Foster, South Yorkshire PoliceRachel CerfontyneIPCCPO Box 473SaleM33 0BWLord Justice GoldringHillsborough InquestsRoyal Courts of JusticeStrandLondonWC2A 2LL