Leeds & West Yorkshire

Sir Norman Bettison's resignation statement in full

Sir Norman Bettison
Image caption Sir Norman Bettison detailed the reasons for his decision in a statement

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison has resigned, saying an inquiry into his actions after the Hillsborough disaster was "a distraction" to the force.

In his resignation statement, Sir Norman denied a claim that he had talked about being asked to help "concoct" the now discredited police version of events following the 1989 tragedy.

The allegation was raised by Merseyside MP and shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle in the Commons on Monday when she quoted a letter from former civil servant John Barry, who made the claim.

Sir Norman, who was serving with South Yorkshire Police at the time of Hillsborough, said the claim was "both incredible and wrong".

This is his statement in full:

First, and foremost, the Hillsborough tragedy, 23 years ago, left 96 families bereaved and countless others injured and affected by it.

I have always felt the deepest compassion and sympathy for the families, and I recognise their longing to understand exactly what happened on that April afternoon.

I have never blamed the fans for causing the tragedy.

Secondly, I refute the report of a conversation 23 years ago.

The suggestion that I would say to a passing acquaintance that I was deployed as part of a team tasked to "concoct a false story of what happened", is both incredible and wrong.

That isn't what I was tasked to do, and I did not say that.

Thirdly, there is a due process to deal with any allegation through the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and the criminal law.

I remain consistent in my desire to assist those inquiries to the full, both now and in the future. These processes should help to separate facts from speculation.

'Allegations about past'

Fourthly, I sought to remain in post to address those allegations.

It now appears that that will take some time.

The police authority, and some of the candidates in the forthcoming PCC (police and crime commissioner) elections, have made it clear that they wish me to go sooner.

I do so, not because of any allegations about the past, but because I share the view that this has become a distraction to policing in West Yorkshire now and in the future.

I have therefore agreed to retire within the statutory notice period.

It has been a privilege to serve the public as a police officer for more than 40 years and I wish the force and the police service every success for the future.

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