Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Bettison's fellowship withdrawn

Liverpool John Moores University has withdrawn an honorary fellowship awarded to Sir Norman Bettison

A university has withdrawn an honorary fellowship awarded to former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison in the wake of the Hillsborough scandal.

It comes after the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded last month that Sir Norman attempted to manipulate his police authority "for his own self interest" following a damning report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

In a statement, Liverpool John Moores University said: "In light of the conclusions published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Liverpool John Moores University has withdrawn the honorary fellowship awarded to Sir Norman Bettison in 2004.

"As previously stated the university would like to commend the families and friends of those who died in the Hillsborough tragedy for the dignity and fortitude they have shown during their lengthy campaign for justice."

The Hillsborough families believe Sir Norman, who resigned his position as the West Yorkshire chief last year, was involved in a cover-up which attempted to lay blame for the tragedy on to the 96 victims.

He was a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster and attended the match in April 1989 at Sheffield Wednesday's ground as a spectator. Following the disaster he took part in the force's subsequent investigation.

Sir Norman, who has always denied any wrongdoing in relation to the disaster, said he resigned because the controversy had become a "distraction to policing in West Yorkshire". His police authority asked the IPCC to look at his role following the disaster, and this investigation is continuing.

Last month's report related to a separate referral to the commission after allegations he interfered with the main referral process. The IPCC said on March 28 that Sir Norman would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct if he had still been a serving officer.

According to the IPCC, the issue was Sir Norman's desire to refer himself to the commission and, therefore, control the process. The report concluded: "It is concerning that his first thoughts appear to have been to protect his own position."

In response, Sir Norman's lawyers pointed out he has not been found guilty of anything and said the IPCC's inquiry "calls into question the fairness of such a process".