THE Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, issued an apology today to Liverpool FC fans saying they were not to blame for the Hillsborough disaster.
Victims’ families have called for Sir Norman to step down over his role in the investigation following a damning report into the tragedy which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
He attended the match as an off-duty South Yorkshire Police inspector and took part in an internal inquiry afterwards.
Sir Norman said: “Let me speak very clearly. The fans of Liverpool Football Club were in no way to blame for the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.
He added: “The police failed to control the situation, which ultimately led to the tragic deaths of 96 entirely innocent people. I can be no plainer than that and I am sorry if my earlier statement, intended to convey the same message, has caused any further upset.
“My role was never to besmirch the fans. I did not do that.
“I am deeply sorry that impression and slight has lingered for 23 years.”
Sir Norman’s latest statement followed one he released yesterday saying he had “absolutely nothing to hide”.
West Yorkshire Police Authority has announced an investigation will be launched in his conduct following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report on Wednesday.
Chairman Coun Mark Burns-Williamson said: “Having now had the opportunity to read the report and to speak with both the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and of South Yorkshire Police, the Chief Executive and I have today referred this matter to the Chair of the Authority’s Special Committee.
“The committee’s role is to oversee all conduct matters involving chief officer ranks, including the Chief Constable.
He added: “I would echo the comments made by the South Yorkshire Chief Constable, David Crompton, that anyone involved in any wrongdoing should be prepared to face the consequences of their actions.”