Calls for Bettison to quit police post

WEST Yorkshire’s top cop is facing calls for his resignation following last week’s revelations about the police response to the Hillsborough disaster.

Sunday, 23rd September 2012, 12:01 pm

West Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison was a superintendent with South Yorkshire Police when the tragedy took place.

Now a complaint against him is to be investigated by an independent police watchdog.

A report released last Wednesday revealed how the South Yorkshire force tried to shift the blame for the crush that killed 96 fans at Hillsborough Stadium onto the fans.

In a statement, Sir Norman accepted that the disaster was “caused, mainly, through a lack of police control”.

But he went on to add: “Fans behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be.”

This led relatives of Hillsborough victims to call for his resignation.

In response, Sir Norman clarified his comments and said: “Let me speak very clearly. The fans of Liverpool Football Club were in no way to blame for the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.”

Sir Norman is the most senior officer who was involved who is still a serving police officer and has always insisted that he was not personally involved in any cover up.

On Thursday it was announced that a special West Yorkshire Police Authority committee was to examine Sir Norman’s role in the day’s events.

The committee met on Saturday and agreed a complaint to refer to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Police authority committee chairman Richard Baldwin said: “It is important that the facts are fully established and evidence considered from other sources before any further decisions are taken. The IPCC is best placed to conduct such investigations.”

Sir Norman said he welcomed the complaint’s referral to the IPCC.

He had originally attended the tragic FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield as a spectator, but put himself back on duty when he saw what was unfolding.

Afterwards, he helped to produce a key internal report that sought to highlight the role of supposedly drunk and unruly fans in the disaster.

He also gave a commentary on a heavily edited video he presented to MPs in Parliament, making similar claims about fans’ behaviour.