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Sir Norman Bettison clarifies comment on Hillsborough fans
West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison yesterday apologised to Liverpool fans and denied besmirching them over the Hillsborough disaster.
The top police officer is facing calls for his resignation following the shocking report by the Independent Hillsborough Panel into the 1989 football tragedy, which claimed 96 victims, including Tony Bland, of Keighley .
He was serving as a South Yorkshire Police officer at the time.
Defending his role in the aftermath of the disaster, he has insisted he did not alter any statement, nor ask for one to be altered, and maintained he had nothing to hide.
But he stoked up more anger after insisting the behaviour of some fans in the stadium made the made the job of the police “harder than it needed to be”.
Yesterday he released a further statement, defending his position, but admitting police failures.
He stated: “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.
“I formed this clear view on hearing all the evidence that was presented at the Taylor Inquiry, having sat through every day from its beginning, just four weeks after the tragedy, through to its conclusion.
“The evidence was overwhelming. 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.”
Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway has called for the Chief Constable’s resignation and said he had tabled a Motion in the House of Commons demanding his departure.
Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks, of the Hillsborough families support group, has also demanded he resign.
A scrutiny committee of West Yorkshire Police Authority is to review the Hillsborough report. Authority chairman Mark Burns-Williamson has pledged the committee will “take whatever action is appropriate.”