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Dublin: 1°C Monday 17 January 2022

Hillsborough disaster: Sir Norman Bettison to retire in March

The announcement comes in the wake of the damning report into the events of the Hillsborough disaster.

West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison
West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison
Image: Dave Higgens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

SIR NORMAN BETTISON, the chief constable of West Yorkshire’s police force in the UK, has announced he will retire at the end of March next year.

The move comes in the wake of a damning report into the Hillsborough disaster which saw him referred to the police watchdog over his conduct in the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy.

Bettison has been accused of participating in a police-orchestrated cover up that looked to blame Liverpool FC football fans for the deaths of 96 people in horrific crushes at the Sheffield stadium.

On the day of the ill-fated FA Cup semi-final, Bettison – who was a South Yorkshire Police officer – was not on duty and attended the game as a spectator. He later took part in an internal inquiry into the force’s handling of the events of 15 April.

In a statement issued today, he said that “recent weeks” have caused him to reflect on what is best for the policing in West Yorkshire, adding that it was a “personal decision” to set a firm date for retirement.

“Furthermore, I hope it will enable the Independent Police Complaints Commission to fully investigate allegations that have been raised about my integrity. They need to be fairly and fully investigated and I welcome this independent and formal scrutiny.

“The record of my leadership of West Yorkshire Police will speak for itself. Crime is down and public confidence is up,” he added.

Bettison is currently the most senior police officer still in service who was involved with the Hillsborough disaster. His referral to the IPCC came after previously unseen documents were released. He has denied any wrongdoing but complaints accused him of taking part in the production and supply of misleading information about Liverpool fans.

Following the publication of the independent report last month, Bettison said he had nothing to hide about his conduct.

Related: The Hillsborough documents: What we’ve learned so far>

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