A former South Yorkshire Police officer accused of involvement in a police cover-up over the Hillsborough disaster is to be investigated over claims he may have tried to influence the public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Sir Norman Bettison, a former South Yorkshire police officer who went on to become West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable, has been referred to the IPCC for the second time in months.
Three documents have been discovered in West Yorkshire Police archives which are said to raise concerns that Sir Norman commissioned a report on someone who was due to give evidence to the public inquiry when it was held in Bradford in 1998.
The force examined its files after allegations the Metropolitan Police attempted to smear the family of the black teenage murder victim Stephen Lawrence following his death in a racist attack in 1993.
An undercover officer claimed Met police chiefs withheld his role spying on the Lawrence campaign from Sir William Macpherson, who headed the public inquiry which examined the police investigation into the death.
Forces nationwide have been ordered to carry out a trawl of records and archives by the Home Secretary to establish whether attempts were made to discredit members of the Lawrence family though intelligence gathering or surveillance.
Mark Gilmore, the current Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, contacted the IPCC after the discovery of the documents relating to Sir Norman.
“The allegations made against two other police forces and the material we have found in connection with the Stephen Lawrence inquiry raise significant issues of not just public confidence and trust, but also public interest,” he said.
Sir Norman stood down from his role as West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable last year after the publication of an independent panel’s report into the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football fans died in 1989.
The report laid bare a police cover-up which attempted to shift blame for the tragedy away from the police and onto fans.
Sir Norman was a Chief Inspector at the time of the disaster and was involved in an internal police force probe into what happened, during which damning police officer statements were altered.
The IPCC is still examining the independent panel’s report into the cover-up.
IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said Sir Norman ‘is facing investigation in relation to allegations that he played a key part in this’.
When he resigned in the wake of the publication of the independent panel’s report into the Hillsborough disaster he said the controversy surrounding his involvement in the alleged cover-up had become a ‘distraction to policing’.