Premier League - Hillsborough chief Bettison hits back at IPCC

Lawyers for a former chief constable have questioned the fairness of a police watchdog investigation which concluded that he tried to manipulate his police authority following the publication of a damning report into the Hillsborough disaster.

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Premier League - Hillsborough chief Bettison hits back at IPCC
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The IPCC said its finding would justify Sir Norman Bettison's dismissal if he was still a serving chief constable

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that Sir Norman Bettison would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct if he had still been a serving officer.

It said he interfered with the West Yorkshire Police Authority's process of referring him to the commission in the wake of the Hillsborough Independent Report - a finding which would justify his dismissal if he had not resigned.

But lawyers for the former West Yorkshire chief constable said the way the IPCC conducted its inquiry "calls into question the fairness of such a process".

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson - who was the chairman of the police authority at the time of the IPCC referral - said: "The West Yorkshire Police Authority referred Sir Norman's conduct to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on 9 October 2012, concerning his alleged attempt to influence the authority's decision-making in the days following the publication of the Hillsborough Report.

"I have provided evidence, along with the chief executive of the former police authority to this investigation and the findings of the IPCC are set out clearly in the report published today.

"This is a difficult time for the victims and families of the Hillsborough disaster, who rightly want to see justice done and those responsible for the tragic events held to account. However, there is a much wider ongoing IPCC investigation into other matters arising from the Hillsborough Report and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this matter at this stage to avoid prejudicing the final report and outcome.

"As your Police and Crime Commissioner I will do everything I can to ensure that the people of West Yorkshire continue to have the trust and confidence in their police force that they rightly expect and deserve and, as I have announced, I will be launching an independent review into police complaints and conduct."

Sir Norman is facing a broader IPCC inquiry into his conduct following the 1989 disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in South Yorkshire.

Thursday's report focused on an allegation that he had tried to influence the police authority when it was considering this broader referral to the commission. According to the IPCC, the issue in question was Sir Norman's desire to refer himself to the commission and, therefore, control the process.

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