The chief constable of South Yorkshire has apologised for the force failing Hillsborough victims then issuing "disgraceful lies" to protect itself.

A statement by chief constable David Crompton on the SYP website said: "On 15th April 1989, 96 of the Liverpool fans went to Hillsborough to watch the FA Cup Semi Final and died as a result of the Disaster.

"On that day South Yorkshire Police failed the victims and families.

"The police lost control.

"In the immediate aftermath senior officers sought to change the record of events.

"Disgraceful lies were told which blamed the Liverpool fans for the disaster.

"Statements were altered which sought to minimise police blame.

"These actions have caused untold pain and distress for over 23 years.

"I am profoundly sorry for the way the force failed on 15th April 1989 and I am doubly sorry for the injustice that followed and I apologise to the families of the 96 and Liverpool fans.

"South Yorkshire Police is a very different place in 2012 from what it was 23 years ago and we will be fully open and transparent in helping to find answers to the questions posed by the panel today."

Today's shocking revelations surrounding South Yorkshire police sound an echo back to 1998 and the controversial appointment of Norman Bettison as chief constable of Merseyside.

Mr Bettison came to the county from the South Yorkshire force and, at the time, had to deny an MP's claims he was involved in a "black propaganda campaign" over the Hillsborough tragedy.

Three members of the Merseyside police authority that appointed him resigned over the issue.

The allegations first surfaced in a speech to Parliament by Liverpool Garston MP Maria Eagle.

The claims centred around Mr Bettison's role in the South Yorkshire police unit which responded to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the disaster.

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”.

But Mr Bettison told the BBC in November of 1998 that his role in the Hillsborough investigation was running a "mail room" for West Midlands police who were conducting an independent investigation.

Part of that role was to remove "hearsay" and "emotional baggage" from evidence and to keep senior officers informed of progress so that safety procedures at matches could be improved.

Relatives of Hillsborough victims collected a petition signed by 15,000 people calling for the chief constable's removal.

Mr Bettison became Sir Norman Bettison when he received a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2006 for services to policing.

And in December the same year he was appointed chief constable of West Yorkshire.