1. ITV Report

Sir Norman Bettison resigns after Hillsborough 'cover-up' allegations

Sir Norman Bettison: 'I have become a distraction to policing' Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Sir Norman Bettison has resigned as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police after allegations that he was involved in a cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Norman first came under pressure earlier last month after he was named in the Hillsborough Independent report.

West Yorkshire Police Authority referred Sir Norman to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating his role.

Sir Norman said he resigned because his presence was proving a "distraction to policing" at West Yorkshire Police, and "not because of any allegations about the past".

ITV News' Correspondent Stephen Douglas reports:

The IPCC has confirmed it is pursuing two separate investigations - the first is looking at "potential criminal offences" and the second "misconduct matters".

Whilst Sir Norman's resignation would not preclude a potential conviction, it does mean he can not be disciplined if the second investigation finds him at fault.

It is not yet clear whether Sir Norman will receive all of the £83,000 pension he is entitled from his time as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police.

ITV News' UK Editor Lucy Manning reports that he could stand to lose up to 65% of his pension if he is charged with and found guilty of a criminal offence.

Norman Bettison pictured in 1998 when he took up the post of Chief Constable for Merseyside Police Credit: Malcolm Croft/PA

Reacting to the news of resignation, the chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, said she was "delighted" that he was leaving.

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 said.

He allowed the families to suffer for 23-years while knowing the truth all along.

– Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group

Sir Norman released the following statement announcing his resignation:

First, and foremost, the Hillsborough tragedy, 23 years ago, left 96 families bereaved and countless others injured and affected by it. I have always felt the deepest compassion and sympathy for the families, and I recognise their longing to understand exactly what happened on that April afternoon. I have never blamed the fans for causing the tragedy.

Secondly, I refute the report of a conversation 23 years ago. The suggestion that I would say to a passing acquaintance that I was deployed as part of a team tasked to ‘concoct a false story of what happened’, is both incredible and wrong. That isn’t what I was tasked to do, and I did not say that.

Thirdly, there is a due process to deal with any allegation through the IPCC and the criminal law. I remain consistent in my desire to assist those enquiries to the full, both now and in the future. These processes should help to separate facts from speculation.

Fourthly, I sought to remain in post to address those allegations. It now appears that that will take some time. The Police Authority, and some of the candidates in the forthcoming PCC elections, have made it clear that they wish me to go sooner. I do so, not because of any allegations about the past, but because I share the view that this has become a distraction to policing in West Yorkshire now and in the future.

I have therefore agreed to retire within the statutory notice period. It has been a privilege to serve the public as a Police Officer for more than 40 years and I wish the Force and the Police Service every success for the future.

– Sir Norman Bettison statement

Sir Norman Bettison denies that he has done anything wrong and says he is sure the IPCC will clear him.

Last month, he told Lucy Manning that "there's nothing I'm ashamed of" over Hillsborough.