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Norman Bettison

Charges dropped against ex-police chief accused of blaming Liverpool fans for Hillsborough disaster

Prosecutors said the decision came as there were changes in the evidence of two witnesses, while a third passed away.

CHARGES HAVE BEEN dropped against Norman Bettison, the ex-police chief who stood accused of four offences of misconduct in public office in the UK.

He was accused of blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough stadium disaster which saw 96 people lose their lives. All the charges related to him allegedly telling lies about his involvement in the aftermath of the tragedy and the culpability of the FA Cup semi-final spectators on 15 April 1989.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed the charges had been discontinued in a statement today.

It said the decision had been taken “following a review of the evidence and was confirmed at a hearing at Preston Crown Court this morning”.

The review revealed changes in the evidence of two witnesses and the death of a third. Prosecutors deemed the changes significant enough that there would now be no realistic prospect of conviction.

“The CPS has a duty to keep all cases under continuing review. Since the original decision to charge Norman Bettison in June 2017 there have been a number of significant developments which have affected the available evidence,” said Sue Hemming, the director of legal services.

“Our latest review of the evidence has concluded the collective impact of these developments means there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.

I appreciate this news will be disappointing for the families and the CPS will meet with them in person to explain the decision.

“I would remind all concerned that although criminal proceedings are no longer active against Norman Bettison, there are five other defendants facing charges relating to Hillsborough and each has the right to a fair trial. It is therefore extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could in any way prejudice those proceedings.”

The matchday commander, David Duckenfield, is to face a manslaughter trial next year in relation to 95 of the 96 deaths. The 96th casualty, Tony Bland, died over a year after the event and had to be excluded from proceedings.

Comments have been disabled as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

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