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Hillsborough inquests lawyer quizzes Dalglish on hooligans

Kenny Dalglish has been questioned at the inquests into the Hillsborough disaster about the behaviour of Liverpool fans and hooliganism.

The former Anfield player and manager was quizzed about what he had written in his autobiography on ticketless fans "bunking in" to games by John Beggs QC, who represents former Hillsborough match commander Supt David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

In sometimes fractious courtroom exchanges involving coroner Lord Justice Goldring and other lawyers, Mr Beggs repeatedly tried to ask Mr Dalglish about a "cohort" of Liverpool fans who were "prone" to violence, drinking heavily and trying to get into football grounds without tickets, "before, during and after" the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Dalglish was the team boss on the day of the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace of the ground as the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest got under way.

Mr Dalglish, watched by two dozen relatives of victims, was asked by Mr Beggs about his book, My Liverpool Home, written in 2010.

Mr Beggs pointed out that in it, Mr Dalglish, writing about the Liverpool v Everton FA Cup Final in 1986, spoke of "Scousers" climbing through windows and using ropes to get into Wembley Stadium.

Mr Beggs read another passage in which Mr Dalglish gave his reaction when the official attendance was given at the game - 98,000.

"I just laughed, as there must have been 110,000 crammed in."

Mr Beggs told the court that here was an "icon" of the game, "laughing at the fact they broke the law" by gaining entry without tickets.

Mr Dalglish said he laughed at the official attendance figures, not at people allegedly "bunking in".

Mr Beggs moved on to a Home Office report about the FA Cup Final in 1989 between Liverpool and Everton, a month after Hillsborough.

overwhelming

The report spoke of the "sheer scale" of attempts to bunk in from fans from Merseyside.

Mr Dalglish said the "clamber for tickets" for the all-Merseyside Cup Final was "overwhelming" to "show their support for the families who had lost loved ones at Hillsborough".

He was then asked about what he had written in his book about the Heysel disaster of 1985 involving Liverpool fans in which 39 rival Juventus fans were killed.

Mr Dalglish had written that only "chicken wire" separated the groups of "passionate" supporters.

Mr Beggs continued: "Are you not acknowledging that within the Liverpool supporters there was a cohort of supporters prone to violence?"

"No," replied Mr Dalglish, who earlier was asked about what he saw of the Hillsborough disaster on the day.

This was limited, because he was in the dressing room until kick-off, then focusing on the match, before briefly going on to the pitch and then returning to the dressing room after the game was abandoned at 3.06pm.

He said: "We knew there was fatalities or we were told there were fatalities. We were not told what the cause was but we knew it was not people fighting or hooliganism."

The inquests, in Warrington, will resume on January 5.

hnews@herald.ie


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