Families of Hillsborough 96 outraged as disgraced cop Bettison publishes self-serving book on disaster
DISGRACED former police chief Sir Norman Bettison was accused of slapping the victims of Hillsborough in the face yesterday after he published a self-serving book attacking the Hillsborough Independent Panel and investigation into the 1989 disaster — in which he is directly implicated.
In a spectacularly offensive screed against the relatives of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, the very man accused of orchestrating the subsequent cover-up and smear campaign against the dead whined that he was merely a scapegoat who was in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Bettison, who was a senior officer in South Yorkshire police at the time of the tragedy and who was specifically singled out for criticism by the panel, makes the claims in Hillsborough Untold: Aftermath of a Disaster, in what many will see as a cynical attempt to exculpate himself and deny the evidentially supported claims of a police cover-up.
But speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside, Louise Brookes, whose brother Andrew was among those who died, said: “I believe that Bettison — no Sir in my eyes — has planned and plotted this book and he’s trying to manipulate any potential jury he may be facing in the future. I don’t know how he has the gall to write it. He climbed the career ladder on the backs of 96 dead people.”
Bettison is currently under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations regarding his role in the aftermath of the disaster. The Crown Prosecution Service has said it will make a decision over whether to mount any related prosecutions by the end of this year.
His claims of police innocence are in direct contradiction to the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which found evidence of industrial-scale doctoring of statements by South Yorkshire Police to remove criticism of its operation and an orchestrated attempt to shift the blame to the victims.
Of doctoring statements, Bettison outrageously states: “I can address this issue confidently.
“I knew of the process. My own account was amended. I never, at the time, saw anything as part of this process that caused me any concern.”
The independent panel thought differently.
Bettison also claims that the IPCC “misunderstood” the purpose of a report he prepared for police lawyers, ahead of Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry into the disaster, which included claims that drunk and ticketless fans made a concerted effort to get into the stadium.
In the book, however, Bettison claims he was an unfortunate victim of circumstance, picked on when the independent panel report was published in 2012 and made a “poster boy for conspiracy theorists.”
“I was the only person named in the report that remained alive and who was still serving as a police officer. The last man standing, so to speak,” he writes.
He said the panel report was written in “a leading style” and added: “For anyone who already had a prejudice about the police role, post-disaster, there were references that allowed them to infer all kinds of mischief.”
Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said: “I think he’s a sad man. His book is irrelevant. The truth is out there and that’s all that matters.”
Liverpool MP Angela Eagle, who has clashed repeatedly with Bettison over his role in the disaster, told BBC Radio Merseyside: “The book’s ill-timed, it’s ill-judged and it’s self-serving. It’s a rehash of the same story we’ve heard from him over the years.”
In a statement, the IPCC said it would not seek to block publication as it did not believe the book would have “a significant adverse impact on the investigation.”
Charlotte Hennessy, whose father Jimmy was killed, tweeted: “Bettison is not a victim of Hillsborough. My dad was.
Norman Bettison is a narcissist and I will not let him win.”
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