Police chief ‘boasted of smearing fans’

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A FORMER South Yorkshire police officer - now West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable - ‘boasted’ about smearing the reputation of Liverpool fans in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, a senior Labour MP has claimed.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle claimed Sir Norman Bettison, who was a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the 1989 tragedy, revealed he had been asked to help ‘concoct’ the force’s version of events.

She used parliamentary privilege, giving her the right to make unsubstantiated claims, to make the claims.

The Merseyside MP quoted from a letter from John Barry, who was at the game, written in 1998 to a solicitor for the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

Ms Eagle said Mr Barry was studying at Sheffield Business School with Sir Norman Bettison.

Mr Barry wrote: “Some weeks after the game, and after I had been interviewed by West Midlands Police, we were in a pub after our weekly evening class.

“He told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry.

“He said that ‘we are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them’.”