HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER: Resignation of South Yorkshire chief welcomed

Sir Norman Bettison
Sir Norman Bettison

FAMILIES of victims who died in the Hillsborough Disaster today welcomed the resignation of under-fire West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison.

The police chief resigned yesterday ahead of a meeting scheduled to consider his role in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster, which he investigated for South Yorkshire Police.

Sir Norman had been under growing pressure since the Hillsborough Independent Panel report was published, and he is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

In a statement, Sir Norman said he had never blamed the fans for the Sheffield tragedy.

“I have always felt the deepest compassion and sympathy for the families,” he said.

Sir Norman dismissed reports of a conversation he had in a pub, in which he allegedly said he was ‘concocting’ a story for South Yorkshire Police. He said: “The suggestion is both incredible and wrong. That isn’t what I was tasked to do, and I did not say that.”

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her 18-year-old son James in the disaster, said Sir Norman’s pension should be frozen while the investigation takes place into the police cover-up highlighted by the Independent Panel report.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted he’s gone but as far as I am concerned he should have been sacked.

“I would now like to know what payments and pension he’s going to get. Any financial benefits should be frozen until the outcome of the investigation into the cover-up.

“This is not the end of it, the next thing is to make sure his role is properly investigated.

“He’s not the only one who we believe took part in this cover-up. But as a senior officer he should have been honest from the very beginning,” she added.