Police chief Sir Norman Bettison 'has nothing to hide' over Hillsborough (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Police chief Sir Norman Bettison 'has nothing to hide' over Hillsborough
The pressure on the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire to quit in the wake of the damning Hillsborough revelations was ramped up last night despite his protests of innocence.
Sir Norman Bettison said he had “absolutely nothing to hide” after reading the shocking report by the Independent Hillsborough Panel into the disaster in April 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
Yesterday, Sir Norman, who was part of the South Yorkshire Police force during the tragedy, insisted the behaviour of some fans in the stadium made the job of the police “harder than it needed to be”.
He also defended his role in the aftermath of April 15, 1989, saying: “I never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered” in the wake of revelations about a police cover-up.
Despite his defence, Bradford West MP George Galloway called for his resignation and said he had tabled a motion in the House of Commons demanding Sir Norman’s departure.
Meanwhile, former Home Secretary, Jack Straw, also said it was “inevitable” Sir Norman is considering his position and hoped he had been doing for some time.
And there was no expression of support for Sir Norman from Downing Street when David Cameron's official spokesman was questioned by reporters on his position. The spokesman was asked several times at a daily press briefing in Westminster whether the Prime Minister continued to have “faith” in Sir Norman as chief constable, but declined to respond directly to the question.
Earlier yesterday, Sir Norman, who was not available for interview, had responded to calls from Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks, a member of the Hillsborough families support group, for him to resign, following the publication of the reports.
But in response, Sir Norman defended his views on the disaster and his role in the aftermath.
“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.
“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.”
Sir Norman, who also became chief constable of Merseyside Police in 1998, added: “In the absence of all the facts, I was called upon to resign 14 years ago, when I became the Chief Constable of Merseyside. I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known about the Hillsborough tragedy because I have absolutely nothing to hide. 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.”