by Mailin:N.enelatill ARCHBISHOP tlerek Worlock of Liverpool this;apeek uaihtilld as "a relief to like people of Liverpool" an iritierint report by Lord Justice Taylarr laYing foods of the blame for 'April's Hillsborough St-4*mb distater on bad crowd acitaarol by police.
The report, tit* fittit of two destined for con erasion by the
Home Secretaryrwas to• the Sunday 71iftes vii' the weekend. In if Lot4l Justice Taylor contends Vain drunkeness among LiverpOolarans was not a major consideration in causing the crush that leeks) thadeaths of
95 people. Instead, the report says, South Yorkshire police made inadequate provisions for controlling the crowd, and should have forseen the sudden late arrival of fans at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.
According to the Sunday Times report, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, in overall charge of police operations at the stadium, is pinpointed by Lord Justice Taylor as having failed to tell his officers to control and direct fans as they poured into the stadium after a gate was opened by police to ease the crush outside.
As well as suggesting sotne ways in which football clubs may improve ground safety, the report comments on the failure of the police radio network at the crucial moment when thousands of extra fans arrived at the stadium, and criticises the lack of crowd control training given to senior police officers.
"It is difficult to comment effectively on a leaked interim report," said Archbishop Worlock. "This said, it is a considerable relief to people here that the report seems to contradict the exaggerated and offensive charges made by the press after the tragedy. 1 find it interesting that the editor of the Sun has apologised for assertions made by his paper assertions which caused very great hurt here."
"No-one is pretending that no drink is ever drunk on these occasions." said the archbishop. "People here have never believed that drink was the cause of the problems. The provisions made at Hillsborough were inadequate, and there was a failure to direct the crowds."
"If they (the police) hadn't opened the gates people outside the stadium would have been
crushed., The problem was that once people were through, there was no direction at all. The end result is that now we are not just counselling the bereaved, but also those who came through the gates late, and contributed to the crush at the front that killed so many. These people suffer from terrible guilt." said Archbishop Worlock.
The report's chief benefit, explained Archbishop Worlock, was that it exonerated the Liverpool fans of the "outrageous" behaviour attributed to them by some newspapers. "There is much anger here about the charges made against fans charges of urinating on corpses and suchlike. Many are relieved, however, that the interim report doesn't sustain any of these gross charges."
"The report's findings on police mismanagement don't surprise me at all," said Bridget Farm, Director of Liverpool's Catholic Social Services which since April has been trying to cater for the practical and emotional needs of Hillsborough victims. "From the accounts of people involved in the tragedy who I have met, the disaster was going to happen, drink or no drink."
"The. presence of drunken people was irrelevant. Crowds have to be controlled and the one thing the police are supposed to be able to do is direct large numbers of people," said Ms Fann.
Both Archbishop Worlock and Ms Fann said that more attention would have to be paid to football grounds if similar disasters are to be avoided. "The police have a heavy responsibility on such occasions," said the archbishop. "Attention to safety standards at football grounds saves lives just as much as sound police tactics."