OPINION: David Duckenfield failed in the 96th. Then he hid behind a cowardly lie.

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But although his acquittal means that he did not fail criminally, it does not mean that he did not fail at all.

And it is not his fault that those who deserved to be put to the same test as he was, will never be held accountable for the death of the ’96ers.

The Hillsborough game commander was acquitted of grossly negligent manslaughter. But his acquittal does not undo his shameful lie.

One of the many tragedies of the Hillsborough disaster is the first explanation for what claimed the lives of these men, women and children was the suspicion that it was Liverpool supporters who were responsible.

Nor does it disguise the fact that he lied.

He said this when schoolchildren, sisters, a father and his son were among those who were crushed into the pencils because they were treated like thugs rather than people.

And it was David Duckenfield who gave this impression.

It was David Duckenfield, as Preston Crown Court heard, who told fans of the FA bosses that they had gained access to the terraces behind the stadium through a “forced” stadium gate before the rush to the terraces behind.

He said this minutes after he – the man responsible for the safety of these people – ordered the exit gates to be opened.

He said this when Dolores Steele, Barry Devonside and Trevor Hicks – who had all lost children, all of whom testified in these trials – were desperately hoping that their teenagers would survive.

It is true that the same stadium exit gate that he had opened at 2:52 p.m. was opened minutes earlier without his instructions.

As the fans lay dying, he hinted that they were responsible for the devastation that was a consequence of his decision.

At 2:48 p.m., Gate C was opened – also by the police in the area – and triggered the remark of an officer next to Duckenfield that the fans had stormed the floor.

This first opening lasted 26 seconds.

Minutes later, Duckenfield ordered the gate to open again.

It remained open for more than five minutes.

About 150 fans entered. . .

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