Inquest into the death of Richard John Whale

October 9, 2019

A four-day Inquest, held from 19 November 2018, found that stewarding failures at Old Trafford football ground contributed to the death of Mr Whale on 10 December 2017. The Inquest found that the hand rails on each side of exit staircase N1410 were obstructed by two stewards, who were watching the Manchester United v Manchester City derby match instead of attending to their duties. Without the security of the handrails Mr Whale walked between the stewards, one of whom moved his leg and accidentally tripped him, and fell down the concrete stairs, fracturing his skull. Death resulted several hours later at Salford Royal Hospital.

The Coroner compiled a ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’ and sent it to MUFC and the relevant authorities warning that future deaths might occur unless appropriate action was taken. Her criticisms were:

  1. Two stewards were blocking the exit
  2. The two stewards obstructed access to both handrails
  3. The two stewards had a lack of awareness of their surroundings in that they were watching the match instead of attending to their prescribed duties.

Michael Redfern QC represented the family of Mr Whale at the Inquest. He was instructed by Jobling Gowler.

The case received national news coverage in The Guardian, The IndependentThe Mirror, The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Star, as well as the Manchester Evening News.