West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison resigns following criticism of his conduct after the Hillsborough disaster

 

Sir Norman Bettison, the West Yorkshire chief constable at the centre of criticism over the Hillsborough disaster, has resigned.

He 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.

In a statement, Sir Norman said he had never blamed the fans for the tragedy: “First, and foremost, the Hillsborough tragedy 23 years ago left 96 families bereaved and countless others injured and affected by it.

”I have always felt the deepest compassion and sympathy for the families, and I recognise their longing to understand exactly what happened on that April afternoon…I have never blamed the fans for causing the tragedy.“

Sir Norman also dismissed reports of a conversation he had in a pub in which he allegedly said he was ”concocting“ a story for South Yorkshire Police.

He said; ”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.“

Sir Norman said the police authority and some of the candidates in the forthcoming PCC elections made it clear that they wanted him to go.

”I do so, not because of any allegations about the past, but because I share the view that this has become a distraction to policing in West Yorkshire now and in the future.“

In September this year, Sir Norman risked angering survivors as he once again called into question the behaviour of fans during the match. He added, however, that he did not believe their conduct ”caused the disaster“.

In the September 13 statement, Bettison described his role on April 15, 1989 and wrote: “I sat through every single day of the Taylor Inquiry, in the summer of 1989. I learned so much. Taylor was right in saying that the disaster was caused, mainly, through a lack of police control.

“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.

But it didn't cause the disaster any more than the sunny day that encouraged people to linger outside the stadium as kick off approached.

“I held those views then, I hold them now. I have never, since hearing the Taylor evidence unfold, offered any other interpretation in public or private.”

At the time of the Hillsborough tragedy Sir Norman was a South Yorkshire Police inspector who attended the match as a spectator and later took part in an internal inquiry.

Earlier this month he announced his decision to retire from the service next March, but calls for him to go sooner have grown.

Yesterday two of the four candidates bidding to be West Yorkshire's new Police and Crime Commissioner called for him to stand down.

West Yorkshire Police Authority vice-chair Les Carter today said: “I can confirm that the Police Authority has accepted Sir Norman's resignation with immediate effect.

”The media attention and Independent Police Complaints Commission 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 £100 million...We therefore believe that his decision is in the best interest of the communities of West Yorkshire."

“It should be recognised that Sir Norman has served West Yorkshire well. He has reduced crime, increased confidence in policing and made a huge contribution to neighbourhood policing. On behalf of the Police Authority, I would like to thank him for what he has achieved here and wish him the best for the future.”

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, welcomed the announcement but said Sir Norman's pension should be frozen while the investigation takes place into the police cover-up highlighted by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

She said: “I'm absolutely delighted he's gone but as far as I am concerned he should have been sacked...I would now like to know what payments and pension he's going to get...Any financial benefits should be frozen until the outcome of the investigation into the cover-up.

“This is not the end of it, the next thing is to make sure his role is properly investigated,” she added.

Mrs Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James in the disaster, said the families had “no vendetta” against the former chief constable.

“He's not the only one who we believe took part in this cover-up. But as a senior officer he should have been honest from the very beginning...He allowed the families to suffer for 23-years while knowing the truth all along.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£120 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: The Humanities Department of this ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Music Teacher

£120 - £180 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Newham Position: Music Start dat...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee