‘Evidence change’ linked to Bettison

Sir Norman Bettison
Sir Norman Bettison
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Sir Norman Bettison was involved in attempts to get four police officers to reconsider statements they had given about the events of the Hillsborough disaster, new inquests into the tragedy heard.

Evidence given during testimony by retired inspector Stephen Sewell on Monday revealed he was one of four officers who had new statements drafted for them by South Yorkshire Police solicitors Hammond Suddards in relation to what they told the Taylor inquiry.

Mr Sewell’s original statement said he believed police had responsibility for monitoring crowds going on to the terraces at Hillsborough, where 96 Liverpool supporters died on April 15, 1989.

The draft format for the revised statements, put together in summer 1990, suggested that the group of officers could say the Taylor inquiry transcripts gave a ‘misleading impression’ and they did not expect colleagues to be assessing the numbers of supporters going into individual pens.

Mr Sewell’s statement was not altered, despite the suggested changes.

Yesterday letters from Hammond Suddards shown to the jury showed the task of interviewing the four officers was allocated by Norman Bettison, then a superintendent with South Yorkshire Police, to a police inspector.

Mr Sewell said he did know Mr Bettison but could not remember talking to him about the matter or being interviewed by the inspector.

Sir Norman, who was Merseyside Police chief constable between 1998 and 2004, resigned his post as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police in October 2012 and is being investigated by the IPCC for his role in the aftermath of the disaster – he denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Sewell, a liaison officer with Sheffield Wednesday for the force, was based in the gym where dead and injured supporters were taken in the aftermath of the crush.

He said it took ‘in the region’ of 30 minutes for a doctor to arrive in the gym.

He said CPR was being carried out on the injured before a doctor arrived.

“People weren’t just brought in and dumped,” he said.

But he was unable to say whether resuscitation attempts were made on all of those supporters who were brought in.