Spotters’ seats ‘sold to fans for disaster match’

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TWO “spotter” seats for ambulance staff said to have been removed and sold for the Hillsborough 1989 FA Cup semi-final could have “made a difference” in flagging up the unfolding tragedy earlier, a senior ambulance chief said yesterday.

The seats behind the players’ tunnel were used at league games at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground to provide “the eyes and ears”. But the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters heard claims that the club removed them on April 15, 1989 and sold them to spectators for the all-ticket tie.

Instead of being positioned in elevated seats in the South Stand the two station officers had seats at ground level between the Spion Kop and the North Stand, the jury sitting in Warrington heard.

The then chief metropolitan ambulance officer for South Yorkshire, Albert Page, told the hearings that the South Stand tickets were removed on the day, adding: “I was told that it was to sell them to spectators”.

He said it was “less than desirable” that the new allocated seats for the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were at pitch level.

Jason Beer QC, representing Sheffield Wednesday, queried whether he was suggesting that the change in seats had “made a difference” to what his personnel could see in the Leppings Lane stand where supporters were crushed.

Mr Page replied: “It did. Elevated seats would see inside the paddock at Leppings Lane.

“They would have seen the exit from the tunnel. They would have seen the build-up of people in that area, whereas from the ground straight in front was a line of police officers because they were talking about a pitch invasion.”

The inquests continue on Monday.