1. ITV Report

Sir Norman 'boasted' about smearing Liverpool fans

Maria Eagle alleged he was behind the "black propaganda" campaign. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison "boasted" about smearing Liverpool fans in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, a senior Labour MP has claimed.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle claimed Sir Norman, who was a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the 1989 tragedy, revealed he had been asked to help "concoct" the force's version of events.

She used parliamentary privilege to make the allegations which were based on new evidence from a witness who discussed the disaster with Sir Norman.

Ms Eagle, a Merseyside MP, said Sir Norman had "always denied any involvement in the dirty tricks campaign" but she alleged he was behind the "black propaganda" campaign.

She quoted from a letter from John Barry, who was at Hillsborough for the FA Cup semi-final tie that led to the death of 96 Liverpool fans.

The letter, written in 1998 to a solicitor for the Hillsborough Family Support Group, was copied to Ms Eagle in 2009 and she has been given permission to make it public.

Ms Eagle said Mr Barry was studying part-time at Sheffield Business School where one of his fellow students was a "middle-ranking police officer".

Mr Barry wrote: "He told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry.

"He said that 'we are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them'."

Ms Eagle said: "Mr Barry confirmed to me in the covering letter in 2009 that the middle-ranking police officer to whom he referred is Norman Bettison."