Anger at Norman Bettison’s new Hillsborough disaster book

Former Merseyside Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison arrives to give evidence at the Hillsborough inquest in Warrington in 2015. Pic: PA
Former Merseyside Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison arrives to give evidence at the Hillsborough inquest in Warrington in 2015. Pic: PA

Former South Yorkshire Police chief inspector Sir Norman Bettison is to publish a controversial new book about the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Norman, who denied during the recent Hillsborough inquests that he had been part of a ‘black propaganda unit’ to blame Liverpool supporters for the disaster, has said he has written the account to combat ‘false accusations’.

The book, called ‘Hillsborough Untold’, will be published next month and proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to charity.

But the planned publication has been criticised by the families of Hillsborough victims and MP Maria Eagle, who told the Liverpool Echo she was ‘amazed’ the book was being published ahead of the CPS making decisions about whether they will charge anyone with criminal offences related to the disaster.

Earlier this year, an inquest jury concluded the 96 Liverpool fans who died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final had been unlawfully killed.

Biteback Publishing, which has acquired the rights to the book, said the book will give ‘an objective and compassionate account of the bereaved families’ long struggle for justice’ - but also seek to explain why Sir Norman feels he has been ‘unfairly scapegoated’.

Sir Norman attended the match as a spectator and was later part of a police team that gathered evidence about what had happened.

Sir Norman said: “I wrote this account because I did not want my forty-year professional career to be defined by false accusations.

“The book should appeal to anyone with an open mind who remains curious about one of the UK’s most tragic, and controversial, peacetime disasters.”

Iain Dale, managing director of Biteback Publishing, said: “Hillsborough was one of the most devastating tragedies in recent British history, causing untold grief and anger to the families and friends of those who died, and spawning hundreds of individual stories.

“One of those stories belongs to Sir Norman Bettison, a former senior policeman who was there on the day as a football supporter, and later found himself caught up in accusations of a police conspiracy to push the blame for Hillsborough onto the fans. His is a story that has never been heard in its entirety.

“While we deeply respect the rawness of emotions surrounding Hillsborough, we hope Sir Norman’s voice can only add to the ongoing narrative and maybe shed some new light into what happened on the day and why the aftermath was handled so disastrously.”