Bettison to face probe after complaints he provided misleading information over Hillsborough disaster (From Wirral Globe)
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Bettison to face probe after complaints he provided misleading information over Hillsborough disaster
7:49pm Wednesday 19th September 2012 in News
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.
The IPCC confirmed it received a referral from the West Yorkshire Police Authority following complaints from members of the public about Sir Norman being "involved in the production and supply of misleading information for the various inquiries that have been undertaken into the Hillsborough disaster".
Bettison was appointed Chief Constable of Merseyside in 1998, a decision which provoked resignations on the local police authority, including that of former Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes.
Allegations about Bettison first surfaced in a speech to Parliament by Liverpool Garston MP Maria Eagle, twin sister of Wallasey MP Angela.
Her claims centred around his role in the South Yorkshire police unit which responded to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry.
In the House of Commons in May of 1998, Ms Eagle said the unit's purpose was to support a “black propaganda campaign which aimed to deflect the blame for what had happened on to anyone other than themselves”.
Sir Norman has always denied any wrong-doing.
The commission today 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.
In a statement following the latest development, 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 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."