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Chief Constable is urged to quit over Hillsborough involvement
A Keighley businessman whose two daughters died in the Hillsborough disaster has demanded the resignation of West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison for his involvement in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Trevor Hicks, whose teenage daughters Sarah and Victoria were among the 96 lives lost, said Sir Norman should “take a look at his own position” after a damning report laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the April 1989 tragedy onto its victims.
Among them was Tony Bland, of Keighley, who spent more than three years in a persistent vegetative state after his brain was starved of oxygen.
He died in 1993 after his parents, Allan and Barbara, won a legal battle to allow a life-sustaining feeding tube to be removed.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool the Right Rev James Jones, revealed South Yorkshire Police made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the disaster onto innocent fans.
The panel's report also said 41 of the 96 who died could have potentially been saved if they had received treatment earlier, victims' families were correct in their belief that some of the authorities attempted to create a “completely unjust” account of events that sought to blame the fans, and South Yorkshire Police had changed more than 100 of the 164 statements made in the wake of the tragedy.
Sir Norman was serving with the South Yorkshire force at the time of tragedy and was involved in the original Hillsborough investigation before becoming Merseyside's chief constable prior to taking up his current role.
He has always denied the claims he was involved in a secret operation to shift blame for the football stadium disaster away from the police and onto fans.
But speaking after details of the independent panel’s report were revealed, Mr Hicks said it was “unfortunate” Sir Norman was chief constable in the area he works in and should go.
“If he has anything about him, he will look at his position,” Mr Hicks said.
He also said it “beggared belief” Sir Norman was handed the reins as Merseyside Chief Constable in 1998.
In a statement issued after publication of the panel’s report, Sir Norman said: “I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known about the Hillsborough tragedy because I have absolutely nothing to hide.
“The panel, in my view, has produced a piece of work that will stand the test of time and scrutiny.”
A complaint made against Sir Norman with regards to Hillsborough has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Mr Hicks said families of the victims felt “totally vindicated” after enduring years of accusations that they were being “vengeful, spiteful, looking for a scapegoat or looking for compensation”.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “The people of Keighley will forever associate the horrific events at Hillsborough with the harrowing ordeal subsequently gone through by the family of Tony Bland.
“However, while apologies – including from the Government – are welcome, I strongly believe that those involved in covering up the truth, in rewriting history and diverting the blame to others for the last 23 years must be made culpable for their actions in a court of law.”