UNDER-PRESSURE West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison arrived to meet with his police authority today saying it was “business as usual”.
Sir Norman attended his first authority meeting since he was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following complaints alleging he supplied misleading information after the Hillsborough tragedy.
Earlier this week, the IPCC confirmed it had received a referral from the West Yorkshire Police Authority following complaints from members of the public about Sir Norman being “involved in the production and supply of misleading information for the various inquiries that have been undertaken into the Hillsborough disaster”.
The commission said a second element of the referral related to a statement he made last week, following the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, in which he said the Liverpool fans’ behaviour made policing the tragedy in 1989 “harder than it needed to be”.
Today Sir Norman was driven to the meeting in Wakefield city centre and was asked as he walked in if he had considered resigning.
Sir Norman said: “No. It’s business as usual. This is a meeting of the police authority and the matters have been referred to the IPCC.”
Police authority chairman Mark Burns-Williamson reported the IPCC referral to the members at the beginning of the meeting, which began with a minute’s silence for the two officers who died in Manchester earlier this week.
Mr Burns-Williamson said the members would discuss the matter further in private at the end of the meeting.
Speaking outside, the chairman said: “We will be talking to him later in private regarding the whole situation in relation to the Hillsborough report.
“Sir Norman has our confidence to continue on as chief constable and get on with the job and that is the situation as it stands today.
“I’m certain that we’ve followed due process with regard to referral to the IPCC and this week he (Sir Norman) has been getting on with the job of chief constable, making sure the policing of the county is there and continues.
“And, obviously, the tragic events over in Manchester this week just highlights the dedication of police officers and staff on a day-to-day basis in keeping the public safe and that is the bottom line.”
Sir Norman was a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police in 1989 but was off duty on April 15 and went to the match as a spectator.
Later, he was involved in an internal inquiry held by the force in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Last week he denied any wrongdoing but sparked fury with his comments, which led to calls for him to resign.
He responded with an apology and said his role was never to “besmirch” the fans and added that the Liverpool supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.
The damning Hillsborough Independent Panel report said a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the 96 lives lost could have been saved.
The panel found 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
Welcoming his police authority’s decision to refer him to the IPCC last week, Sir Norman said: “It is time this moved into a more formal and legal inquiry, where it can be considered, analysed and fully assessed.”
Questions about his role in the investigation of the Hillsborough disaster have dogged him as he has risen through the higher ranks of the police - most notably when there were protests from the families of those who died when he became chief constable of Merseyside in 1998.