Police chief Sir Norman Bettison to be probed by IPCC over Hillsborough claims


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The Independent Online

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following complaints alleging he supplied misleading information after the Hillsborough disaster, the police watchdog said tonight.

The IPCC confirmed it had received a referral from the West Yorkshire Police Authority following complaints from members of the public about allegations that Sir Norman was "involved in the production and supply of misleading information for the various inquiries that have been undertaken into the Hillsborough disaster".

The commission said a second element of the referral related to a statement he made last week, following the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, in which he said the Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing at the tragedy in 1989 "harder than it needed to be".

West Yorkshire Police Authority's Special Committee agreed last week to record a complaint against Sir Norman and immediately refer it to the IPCC for investigation.

Sir Norman said after the meeting he was pleased to have the matter investigated.

Today, in a statement, the IPCC said: "The IPCC has now received a referral from West Yorkshire Police Authority in relation to complaints against Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison.

"This referral ... follows complaints from members of the public about two matters: 1) allegations that the Chief Constable, while a serving officer with South Yorkshire Police, was involved in the production and supply of misleading information for the various inquiries that have been undertaken into the Hillsborough disaster; 2) the public statement made by the Chief Constable on 13 September 2012."

The statement went on to explain how the commission was looking at the referral closely to work out how it should be investigated.

It said: "This assessment is being conducted in parallel with our ongoing review of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and supporting documentation.

"The review is being undertaken to identify from the report what conduct, by named or unnamed police officers, may require referral and to clarify our jurisdiction."

It said it was looking at all previous inquiries into the disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground at an FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest.

The commission said it was also examining previous investigations by its predecessor body, the Police Complaints Authority.

The IPCC said it was aware of ongoing reviews by the South Yorkshire and West Midlands forces to determine whether further matters needed to be referred.

The statement concluded: "We are keenly aware of the public interest in this matter and the understandable concerns the publication of the panel's report has created.

"However we must stress that the analysis of the comprehensive documentation disclosed by the panel will take some weeks to complete."