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Senior officer referred to police watchdog over Hillsborough report

Sir Norman Bettison, who was responsible for a discredited internal inquiry into the police’s handling of the Hillsborough stadium disaster 23 years ago, is facing an investigation.

Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A SENIOR POLICE officer implicated in the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report into the 1989 stadium disaster has been referred to the police watchdog in Britain.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in Britain says it has received a referral from West Yorkshire Police Authority in relation to complaints made about Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police.

Bettison was formerly an officer in South Yorkshire Police and was involved in the force’s internal inquiry into its handling of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in 1989.

A new report published last week exposed a police cover-up of its handling of the disaster and an attempt to smear the fans through the systematic alteration of over 100 officers’ statements and through misleading briefings to the media.

The report also found that as many as 41 of those who died could have survived had they received better care on the day.

The report absolved fans of any blame for the disaster as had a previous statutory inquiry. But in a statement last week Bettison said that while he accepted the findings of it “fans behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police” on the day much harder.

‘Public interest’

The IPCC says it is examining a complaint from members of the public about this statement as well as allegations that Bettison “was involved in the production and supply of misleading information for the various inquiries that have been undertaken into the Hillsborough disaster”.

The police watchdog also said that it was reviewing the documentation supplied by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which produced a 395-page report and 450,000 supporting documents which it had examined over nearly three years.

In its statement, the body said: “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.”

The Attorney General for England and Wales is currently examining the panel’s report to determine whether or not to apply for the original inquest verdict of ‘accidental death’ that was recorded for all 96 who died to be overturned and fresh inquests held.

This is a matter that is being pursued by families of the 96 who died who are also lobbying for criminal prosecutions as well as pressing ahead with any civil litigation they feel is necessary against various bodies implicated in the panel’s report.

Last week: Hillsborough: Pressure for prosecutions as police open inquiry over conduct

Read: “41 people might have survived” – the Hillsborough report’s findings

Video: Former Sun editor MacKenzie doorstepped over Hillsborough headline

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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