Ex-police chief slammed over Hillsborough report response

Posted: March 29, 2013 by Rizwan Riyad in News, world
Tags: , , , , ,

Sir Norman Bettison, the former chief constable of West Yorkshire police, has a case to answer for gross misconduct over his behaviour following publication of the Hillsborough independent panel report, the police watchdog said.
But Bettison, who left the service in the aftermath of the damning Hillsborough report last year, cannot be disciplined or dismissed because he is no longer a serving officer.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found in a report published yesterday that he had a case to answer for “discreditable conduct and abuse of authority”, breaches which would justify dismissal.
The IPCC concluded that Bettison had attempted to influence his police authority when it was considering referring him to the police watchdog over his alleged part in a “black propaganda” campaign in the aftermath of the football stadium disaster that killed 96 people.
Bettison, the IPCC found, did not attempt to stop the referral happening, but the contact he made with Fraser Sampson, the chief executive of West Yorkshire police authority, and Mark Burns-Williamson, its chair, were attempts to influence and manipulate their decision.
The report says Bettison’s account of what happened contrasted with that of the chief executive of the authority. “By his own account Sir Norman was anxious for the complaints against him to be referred to the IPCC, but the evidence demonstrates that he wanted to control the process,” the IPCC says.
“Given the content of the Hillsborough independent panel’s report which implied that he may have been involved in manipulating the facts and supplying misinformation to the media, parliament and the public following the Hillsborough disaster, the evidence suggesting that he has attempted to manipulate public messages can only be damaging to his reputation.
“It is concerning that his first thoughts appear to have been to protect his own position.”
Bettison who retired last October was, when the report came out, the most senior serving officer to have been involved in the Hillsborough disaster. He is still the subject of a more substantial IPCC investigation into allegations that he played a role in a propaganda campaign in the aftermath of the disaster that involved the South Yorkshire force attempting to smear the fans and to put itself in a positive light.

Ex-police chief

Ex-police chief

The IPCC published its findings on Bettison because he will not face a disciplinary hearing as he is no longer serving.
The watchdog said it had published to let “the public judge”.
IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass, said: “His attempts to manipulate and manage the perception of the referral of complaints about him, for his own self-interest, is particularly concerning. It is also conduct that falls far short of what should be expected of a chief constable.
“It was the IPCC’s view at the start of the investigation, as it was the view of his police authority, that Sir Norman’s actions, if proven, fell so far short of what is expected of a chief constable that dismissal would be justified. The evidence uncovered during the investigation supports that view.
“While we cannot bring this case to misconduct proceedings, we can publish the evidence so that the public can judge for themselves. This case should also serve as a salutary reminder to chief officers everywhere of how much public confidence is damaged when the conduct of leaders is called into question.”

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