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Hillsborough club secretary ‘too busy for safety officer role’

Artist's sketch of Graham MackrellImage copyright Julia Quezler
Image caption Graham Mackrell was safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday at the time of the Hillsborough disaster

The former club secretary of Sheffield Wednesday said he would be too busy to carry out the duties of a safety officer at Hillsborough, a court heard.

Former environmental health officer David Moore told Preston Crown Court Graham Mackrell said “he would be too busy entertaining corporate clients”.

Mr Mackrell was the club’s secretary and safety officer at the time of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The 69-year-old denies breaching safety legislation.

David Duckenfield, 74, who was the match commander at the 1989 FA Cup game, also denies 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

Mr Moore, who worked for Sheffield City Council, told the court the club had been reluctant to appoint a safety officer, despite it being a requirement in stadium safety manual.

He said Mr Mackrell’s attitude was “flippant” when he discussed the need for an appointed safety officer at a “difficult” meeting in August 1987.

Image caption The 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Mr Moore said Mr Mackrell had told him he would take on the role but the council officer said he was not sure he “was serious” about it.

He told the jury he had asked Mr Mackrell if he was prepared to carry out the activities of a safety officer, particularly on match days.

“I was quite surprised by his response. He told me very directly he would be too busy entertaining corporate clients,” Mr Moore said.

Simon Antrobus QC, representing Mr Mackrell, suggested Mr Moore might be wrong as the defendant did not entertain guests on match days.

Mr Moore said: “I know he absolutely said that.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption David Duckenfield (left) and Graham Mackrell are on trial at Preston Crown Court

Mr Moore said the club had no documented safety management plan and although requested, it never delivered one.

He also had concerns about contingency planning for safety stewards and said he was “quite surprised that arrangements for first aid appeared to be quite informal, at best.”

But, in a report after the meeting he recorded that he was impressed with the level of ground management at the stadium.

Mr Moore also said the club’s structural engineer William Eastwood became “irate” when he pointed out “significant safety hazards” related to the club’s development of the Spion Kop end.

“Dr Eastwood asked me details of those hazards and the relationship quickly deteriorated,” he said.

The trial continues.

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