24 Oct 2012

Hillsborough police chief Bettison resigns

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison, who investigated the Hillsborough disaster for South Yorkshire police, has resigned amid claims he provided misleading information.

Sir Norman tendered his resignation ahead of a meeting today which was scheduled to consider his role in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which he investigated for South Yorkshire police, West Yorkshire Police Authority Vice-Chairman Les Carter confirmed.

He has been under growing pressure since the Hillsborough Independent Panel report was published on 12 September, and is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

On 22 October, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle used parliamentary privilege to claim, during a Commons debate on the Hillsborough report, that Sir Norman was behind a “black propaganda” campaign.

She told MPs that several weeks after the disaster, Sir Norman had revealed to John Barry, at the time a fellow part-time student at Sheffield Business School, that he had been asked to help “concoct” South Yorkshire police’s version of events on 15 April 1989.

‘Incredible and wrong’

In a statement issued today, Sir Norman said: “I refute the report of a conversation 23 years ago. The suggestion that I would say to a passing acquaintance that I was deployed as part of a team tasked to ‘concoct a false story of what happened’ is both incredible and wrong.

“That isn’t what I was tasked to do, and I did not say that.”

On 13 September, the day after publication of the report, Sir Norman said had “nothing to hide” and, in a statement, said the behaviour of fans that day had made the police’s job “harder than it needed to be”.

He denied any involvement in the subsequent police cover-up, in which 116 out of 164 statements from police officers were substantially amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to South Yorkshire police.