West Yorkshire Chief Constable denies involvement in Hillsborough cover-up (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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West Yorkshire Chief Constable denies involvement in Hillsborough cover-up
The chief constable of West Yorkshire Police today insisted he has “absolutely nothing to hide” after calls for him to step down following the release of the damning Hillsborough report.
In a statement, Sir Norman Bettison, said he welcomed the disclosure of all the facts about the disaster in April 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans and explained his role on the day and in subsequent investigations.
And Sir Norman said he was not part of a team created to vet statements from South Yorkshire Police Officers intended for the Taylor Inquiry and also denied ever altering any police statements or asking them to be altered.
The chief constable, one of the highest ranking police officers in the country, was responding to calls from Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks for him to resign, following the publication of the Independent Hillsborough Panel report yesterday.
But in response, Sir Norman said his views on events have not changed since the initial Taylor report into the disaster.
“The more we learn about events, the more we may understand,” he said.
“ I sat through every single day of the Taylor Inquiry, in the summer of 1989. I learned so much. “Taylor was right in saying that the disaster was caused, mainly, through a lack of police control. Fans behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be. “But it didn’t cause the disaster any more than the sunny day that encouraged people to linger outside the stadium as kick off approached. “I held those views then, I hold them now. I have never, since hearing the Taylor evidence unfold, offered any other interpretation in public or private.” Sir Norman, who also became chief constable of Merseysde Police in 1998, despite a campaign against him, said he believes the panel has produced a report to “stand the test of time and scrutiny”.
“In the absence of all the facts, I was called upon to resign 14 years ago, when I became the Chief Constable of Merseyside,” he said.
“I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known about the Hillsborough tragedy because I have absolutely nothing to hide. I read the 395 page report from cover to cover last night and that remains my position.
“The panel, in my view, has produced a piece of work that will stand the test of time and scrutiny. Whilst not wishing to become a conducting rod for all the genuine and justified hurt and anguish, I would invite anyone to do the same as me and read the document and the papers on line.”