Hillsborough families welcome top cop Bettison's resignation
Chief constable of West Yorkshire Police stands down with immediate effect amid cover-up claims
SIR NORMAN BETTISON, one of the most senior police officers implicated in the Hillsborough disaster cover-up, has resigned as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, days after claims emerged that he had "boasted" about blaming the disaster on Liverpool fans.
Bettison was a member of the South Yorkshire Police liaison unit that investigated the tragedy and was accused of spreading "black propoganda" about the crush that killed 96 people at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.
Bettison is one of more than 1,400 police officers who face investigation over the Hillsborough disaster and this week he was accused in Parliament of admitting that he tried to "concoct" a story blaming Liverpool fans for the deaths.
West Yorkshire police authority are believed to have pushed for Bettison to resign now, even though he had already agreed to retire from his post next spring.
"The media attention and Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation is proving to be a huge distraction for the force, at a time when it is trying to maintain performance and make savings of £100m," said the authority. "We therefore believe that his decision is in the best interest of the communities of West Yorkshire."
The Times reports: "More than two decades ago, as a rising star in South Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman was a witness to the disaster as a spectator and took part in the force’s subsequent investigation. He wrote his own account of what happened for the public inquiry and gave a presentation to MPs that was critical of drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans, who he said were largely to blame for the crush."
In 1998, the same year that Bettison was appointed chief constable of Merseyside Police, Angela Eagle a local Labour MP, accused him of being part of a "black propoganda" campaign that aimed to shift the blame for the disaster onto Liverpool supporters.
This week Eagle made fresh allegations about Bettison, claiming that after the disaster he told a former civil servant "we're going to try and concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk".
Bereaved Hillsborough families have felt "particularly aggrieved" about Bettison's involvement in the post-Hillsborough operation within South Yorkshire police, says The Guardian. His resignation comes "amid mounting claims over his role in the smearing of fans".
Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group said they welcomed his resignation.
"His was a position of trust and he had lost that trust a long time ago. This may affect the ability to take disciplinary action against Mr Bettison, but will not stop a rigorous examination of any potential criminal liability by those charged to do so.
"It remains to be seen whether he will receive any extra pay off over his gold-plated public sector pension of up to £150,000 a year," says the Daily Mail. ·