Hillsborough families welcome Bettison departure

Sir Norman Bettison Sir Norman Bettison will leave the force on 31 March

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The families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster have welcomed the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire's announcement that he is to retire.

Sir Norman Bettison, 56, said he would leave the service on 31 March 2013.

He has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over his conduct after the 1989 disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Trevor Hicks, whose two daughters died in the tragedy, said Sir Norman must have seen his position was "untenable".

At the time of the Hillsborough tragedy, Sir Norman was a South Yorkshire Police inspector who attended the match as a spectator and later took part in an internal inquiry.

Unfolding disaster

His referral last month to the Independent Police Complaints Commission came after complaints from members of the public following the release of previously unseen government papers about the disaster and its aftermath.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel's report 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.

Sir Norman has defended his role following the disaster, saying: "I never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered."

Mr Hicks said Sir Norman should have been sacked after the publication of the Hillsborough report.

'Years of heartache'

Anne Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died at Hillsborough, said Sir Norman had "no other choice" than to quit.

"I think everybody that has been involved in the cover-up should go. It's caused all the families 23 years of heartache," she said.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said she was "thrilled" Sir Norman was to retire.

But Mrs Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, asked why Sir Norman had not waited until after the IPPC's work was complete.

"If he's got nothing to hide, why is he retiring? The man has got something to worry about," she said.

Liverpool Labour MP Maria Eagle said Sir Norman's retirement was the right decision and would provide "some relief" to the Hillsborough families.

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