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Committee to discuss Bettison position

West Yorkshire Police's Special Committee are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the position of under-fire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, following the recent revelations of the Hillsborough disaster.

• PM apologises for Hillsborough injustice
• Questions raised over police watchdog

The West Yorkshire authority has not said why the committee is convening in Wakefield but the meeting comes the day after Mark Burns-Williamson - who chaired the authority until a fortnight ago - called for Sir Norman to step down immediately.

Mr Burns-Williamson called for the chief to go, following new claims that he had boasted about being asked to help "concoct'' South Yorkshire Police's version of events following the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed 96 lives in 1989.

These claims were 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 detailing comments he said Sir Norman made when they were both part-time students in Sheffield.

Later, Mr Barry repeated his claims in a TV interview saying the police officer told him: "I've been asked by senior officers to pull together the South Yorkshire Police evidence of the public inquiry and we're going to try and concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and that we were afraid they were going to force down the gates so we decided to open them.''

Mr Burns-Williamson, who resigned as police authority chairman earlier this month as he is now Labour's candidate to become West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner, said: "In light of the new evidence given in Parliament yesterday I feel Sir Norman Bettison should stand down now in the best interests of West Yorkshire Police.''

Sir Norman was a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster and attended the match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground as a spectator but, after the disaster, he was involved in the subsequent force investigation.

The chief, who has always denied any wrongdoing, was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over claims that he gave misleading information in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster and that he tried to influence West Yorkshire Police Authority's decision-making process in relation to the referral.

Mr Barry, who was at the match in Sheffield in 1989, told ITV Calendar News: "I was absolutely astounded. He knew I'd been there. I was in the seats immediately above where people were being crushed and people were dying. I was astounded he said this to me.''

He said he did not report this earlier because of the trauma he suffered after the disaster and also because he was afraid of not being believed.

But he added: "And I think also it's got to be, I have to admit, I must have had some fear of what South Yorkshire Police, and Norman Bettison in particular, would do. Would they seek retribution?''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report


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