West Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison resigns

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WEST Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison has resigned.

Sir Norman handed in his resignation to the police authority this morning, ahead of a special committee meeting to consider his role in the Hillsborough disaster.

Vice-chair of the Police Authority, Coun Les Carter said: “I can confirm that the police authority has accepted Sir Norman’s resignation with immediate effect.

“The media attention and Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation is proving to be a huge distraction for the force, at a time when it is trying to maintain performance and make savings of £100 million.

“We therefore believe that his decision is in the best interest of the communities of West Yorkshire.”

Sir Norman’s future was put under further pressure this week after Shadow Cabinet member and Merseyside MP Maria Eagle revealed in Parliament on Monday night that he had privately “boasted” that South Yorkshire Police were “trying to concoct a story” blaming Liverpool fans for the 1989 disaster, which killed 96 people.

Sir Norman was chief inspector of the South Yorkshire force at the time and faces two investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over claims he gave misleading information and that he tried to influence West Yorkshire Police Authority’s process in referring him.

Sir Norman said: “I wish to make four points, and hope that each will be fairly reported.

“First, and foremost, the Hillsborough tragedy, 23 years ago, left 96 families bereaved and countless others injured and affected by it. I have always felt the deepest compassion and sympathy for the families, and I recognise their longing to understand exactly what happened on that April afternoon. I have never blamed the fans for causing the tragedy.

“Secondly, I refute the report of a conversation 23 years ago. The suggestion that I would say to a passing acquaintance that I was deployed as part of a team tasked to ‘concoct a false story of what happened’, is both incredible and wrong. That isn’t what I was tasked to do, and I did not say that.

“Thirdly, there is a due process to deal with any allegation through the IPCC and the criminal law. I remain consistent in my desire to assist those enquiries to the full, both now and in the future. These processes should help to separate facts from speculation.

“Fourthly, I sought to remain in post to address those allegations. It now appears that that will take some time. The Police Authority, and some of the candidates in the forthcoming PCC elections, have made it clear that they wish me to go sooner. I do so, not because of any allegations about the past, but because I share the view that this has become a distraction to policing in West Yorkshire now and in the future.

“It has been a privilege to serve the public as a police officer for more than 40 years and I wish the force and the police service every success for the future.”

See Friday’s Express for more on this story.