SIR Norman Bettison, the most senior serving police officer who was involved with South Yorkshire Police’s discredited Hillsborough operation, today faced calls to resign - but said he had “nothing to hide”.
Sir Norman, the current Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, issues a statement following the publication of an independent report into the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed.
In it he described his role on April 15 1989 and added: “I never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered.”
The damning report, published on Wednesday by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to its 96 victims. The report found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
The families of the Liverpool fans killed 23 years ago said the report had vindicated them, and have pledged to carry on their fight by pursuing criminal prosecutions against those who they said should “hang their heads in shame”.
Sir Norman was an off duty police inspector when he attended the game and was involved in an internal inquiry held in its aftermath.
He said: “I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known about the Hillsborough tragedy because I have absolutely nothing to hide. I read the 395 page report from cover to cover last night and that remains my position.
“The panel, in my view, has produced a piece of work that will stand the test of time and scrutiny. Whilst not wishing to become a conducting rod for all the genuine and justified hurt and anguish, I would invite anyone to do the same as me and read the document and the papers online.”
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, said of Sir Norman Bettison’s statement: “Quite frankly I am quite angry about it and I think he should resign.
“He should do the decent thing and resign, no matter what he is saying in his statement today. He is still saying the fans made the job more difficult for the police. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Do the decent thing Mr Bettison -resign.”
SEE THE STAR FOR A 10-PAGE HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER REPORT SPECIAL - THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2012.