Keighley businessman calls for Bettison to resign over Hillsborough revelations (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Keighley businessman calls for Bettison to resign over Hillsborough revelations
A Keighley businessman whose two daughters died in the Hillsborough disaster has demanded the resignation of West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison for his involvement in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Trevor Hicks, whose teenage daughters Sarah and Victoria were among the 96 lives lost, said Sir Norman should “take a look at his own position” after a damning report laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the April 1989 tragedy on to its victims.
Also among them was Tony Bland, of Keighley, who spent more than three years in a persistent vegetative state after his brain was starved of oxygen. He died in 1993 after his parents, Allan and Barbara, won a legal battle to allow a life-sustaining feeding tube to be removed.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend James Jones, yesterday revealed South Yorkshire Police made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the disaster on to innocent fans.
The panel’s report also said:
- 41 victims of the 96 who died could have potentially been saved if they had received treatment earlier.
- Victims’ families were correct in their belief that some of the authorities attempted to create a “completely unjust” account of events that sought to blame the fans.
- South Yorkshire Police had changed more than 100 of the 164 statements made in the wake of the tragedy.
Sir Norman was serving with the South Yorkshire force at the time of tragedy and was involved in the original Hillsborough investigation before becoming Merseyside’s chief constable prior to taking up his current role.
During his time in the North West, Sir Norman saw a campaign to get him removed because of his Hillsborough links and was accused of being involved in a “black propaganda campaign” by an MP.
He has always denied the claims he was involved in a secret operation to shift blame for the football stadium disaster away from the police and on to fans and has previously defined his role as running a “mail room” for West Midlands police who were conducting an independent investigation.
But speaking after details of the independent panel’s report were revealed, Mr Hicks said it was “unfortunate” Sir Norman was chief constable in the area he works in and should go.
“If he has anything about him, he will look at his position,” Mr Hicks said.
“If he is anything of a man he will stand down and scurry up a drainpipe somewhere.”
He also said it “beggared belief” Sir Norman was handed the reigns as Merseyside Chief Constable in 1998.
Last night, neither Sir Norman nor West Yorkshire Police would respond to Mr Hicks’s comments.
Mr Hicks also condemned Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor of The Sun, who yesterday offered a “profuse apology” for the paper’s front page story a few days after the tragedy.
Mr MacKenzie wrote the headline ‘The Truth’ on the controversial front page report, which alleged fans had picked pockets of victims, urinated on police and beat up officers trying to save lives.
Mr Hicks rejected the apology as “too little, too late” and branded MacKenzie as “low-life”.
In a statement, Mr MacKenzie said: “I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.”
Mr Hicks, a member of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said it would now press for criminal action against those involved in the disaster and said the 96 victims could now rest in peace.
“We feel a breakthrough has been made. The truth is out today and the justice starts tomorrow,” he said.
Mr Hicks said families of the victims felt “totally vindicated” after enduring years of accusations that they were being “vengeful, spiteful, looking for a scapegoat or looking for compensation”.
“All of this is a total load of rubbish. If today says one thing to the world, we are vindicated in our search for the truth,” he said.
Mr Hicks said the families gave the panel a standing ovation when it finished reporting its findings to them.
He said the report clearly showed the aftermath of the disaster was a “contrived, manipulated, vengeful and spiteful attempt to divert the blame.”
Referring to their intention to pursue criminal proceedings, Mr Hicks said they were not “looking for scapegoats”, but for accountability.