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Former West Yorkshire Police chief Sir Norman Bettison will not be prosecuted over Hillsborough



Former police chief Sir Norman Bettison will not be prosecuted for misconduct in a public office over the Hillsborough disaster.

Four charges against him were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on Tuesday “following a review of the evidence”.

They related to the former West Yorkshire Police chief inspector telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.

Sir Norman said his continued insistence he did nothing wrong had been “vindicated”.

The victims of the Hillsborough disaster
96 people were killed in the disaster

Ninety-six people died in a crush at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium on April 15 1989 before an FA Cup semi-final.

An inquest jury ruled in 2016 they were unlawfully killed.

Sir Norman, 62, was at the game but was off duty, attending as a spectator.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, he was tasked with finding material for police lawyers to present to the public inquiry, led by Lord Justice Taylor.

Injured Liverpool fans are carried over to an ambulance on the field by the police
Injured Liverpool fans are carried over to an ambulance on the field by the police

He later applied for the job of chief constable in Merseyside – an appointment that caused controversy when it emerged he had not mentioned his work on Hillsborough in the application form.

The four charges included accusations Sir Norman untruthfully described his role in the response as “peripheral” and that he lied about never having having tried to shift blame for the disaster “on to the shoulders of Liverpool supporters”.

He was also accused of two further claims of saying he never “besmirched” Liverpool fans and never offering any interpretation other than that the behaviour of Liverpool fans did not cause the disaster.

Liverpool fans were crushed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989
Liverpool fans were crushed before an FA Cup semi-final at the stadium

Speaking outside Preston Crown Court, Sir Norman said nothing in his experience of the inquest or subsequent charges had “done anything” to diminish the sympathy he felt for Hillsborough victims and their families.

“I’ve been forced to deny strenuously that I have done anything wrong in the aftermath of the disaster and today’s outcome vindicates that position,” he said.

“Six years ago I was driven from the job that had been my vocation for 40 years.

“And some commentators who didn’t really know anything about me or the facts, rushed to judgement and pre-determined my guilt

“But something I learned early in my police service is that no injustice was ever satisfactorily resolved through being unjust.”

Hillsborough Everton Liverpool 96
Five other men will face trial for offences related to the disaster next year

Explaining the decision to stop criminal proceedings against him, CPS director of legal services Sue Hemming said there had been “significant developments which have affected the available evidence” since he was charged in June 2017.

Two witnesses had changed their evidence and a third had died, she added.

“Our latest review of the evidence has concluded the collective impact of these developments means there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” Ms Hemming said.

“I appreciate this news will be disappointing for the families and the CPS will meet with them in person to explain the decision.”

Five other men, including Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, are due to face trial for offences related to the disaster next year.

Due to the ongoing cases, Ms Hemming said it was “extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could in any way prejudice those proceedings”.

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