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Norman Bettison quits but denies Hillsborough 'fit up'

But it's all to much for West Yorks force as media spotlight intensifies

Published on October 24th 2012.

Norman Bettison quits but denies Hillsborough 'fit up'

Sir Norman Bettison has resigned as the chief of West Yorkshire Police.

The resignation comes just two days after Garston and Halewood MP Maria Eagle used Parliamentary privilege to claim the ex Merseyside top cop had drummed up a story to fit up Liverpool supporters following the Hillsborough tragedy.

His role in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster is currently being investigated by the IPPC.

West Yorkshire Police Authority today said that media attention and the investigation by the police watchdog were "proving to be a huge distraction for the force".

The 56-year-old had been due to retire next March, but had been called upon to step down with immediate effect by the authority.

In a statement, Bettison expressed sympathy for those bereaved by the disaster. "I have never blamed the fans for causing the tragedy.”

He also denied an alleged conversation with a supporter, which was detailed in a letter read out by Eagle in Monday’s Commons debate.

At the time of the tragedy, Bettison was a South Yorkshire Police inspector who attended the match as a spectator. He later took part in an internal inquiry.

During Monday's debate, Eagle, quoted a 1998 letter from football supporter John Barry, who survived the crush which killed 96 people, to solicitor Ann Adlington. In it he alleges he was told by Bettison, in a pub in 1989, that police were trying to "concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk".

"Some weeks after the game, and after I had been interviewed by West Midlands Police, we were in a pub after our weekly evening class [at Sheffield Business School]," Barry wrote in the letter, quoted by Eagle.


“He told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry. He said that ‘we are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them’."

Eagle told MPs that Barry had later "confirmed to me in the covering letter in 2009 that the middle-ranking police officer to whom he referred is Norman Bettison.

"He has agreed to swear a statement to that effect and I have put him in touch with the families’ solicitors."

She added: "What Sir Norman denies in public he boasts about in private conversations."

But in his resignation statement, Bettinson refuted this: "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."

Bettison became chief constable of Merseyside Police in 1998, a move that was greeted bitterly by a number of bereaved Hillsborough families. 


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Paul WardOctober 24th 2012.

Let us hope this isn;t the traditional "resign and dodge all consequences" technique that so many crooked coppers have benefited from over the years.

PabloOctober 26th 2012.

I hope he's found guilty of criminal activity involving this matter, thus forfeiting his MERSEYSIDE Police pension of £83k P/A

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 26th 2012.

I'm not sure pensions work like that. He did nothing wrong at merseyside and I'd be supprised if his merseyside pension could be taken away from him.

Barry WilkinsonNovember 1st 2012.

Surely pensions work by transferring your pension from one job to another according to how often you move...isnt Yorkshire Police..his last employer responsible for this last instalment

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