10:45am Thursday 28th March 2013
© Press Association 2013
A former chief constable would have a case to answer for gross misconduct over his dealings with his police authority following the publication of a damning report on the Hillsborough disaster if he was still a serving officer, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said.
Sir Norman Bettison attempted to influence public perception as the West Yorkshire Police Authority was deciding whether to refer him to the IPCC following the Hillsborough Independent Panel report last year, the IPCC has concluded.
It said: "While it was evident Sir Norman made no attempt to prevent the referral happening, the IPCC investigation concluded that he attempted to manipulate the public perception of the referral process for his own self-interest."
The commission said its finding would justify Sir Norman's dismissal if he was still a serving chief constable.
The IPCC said it independently investigated his actions in relation to the process by which complaints about his involvement in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster were referred to the commission. The former chief, who has always denied any wrongdoing, resigned from his post in West Yorkshire last year.
The IPCC said in a statement on Thursday: "The IPCC concluded Sir Norman had a case to answer for discreditable conduct and abuse of authority, breaches which, if proven in a disciplinary hearing, would amount to gross misconduct as they would justify dismissal.
"However, as Sir Norman left the police service in October 2012 he cannot face a disciplinary hearing in which the evidence could be tested. Instead, the IPCC is publishing its findings for the public to judge."
An investigation into Sir Norman's conduct in the period following the 1989 disaster, when he was involved in South Yorkshire Police's inquiry into what happened, is ongoing.
IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said: "The Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath have become synonymous in the public consciousness with allegations of police attempts to cover up the truth, manipulate messages and deflect blame.
"Sir Norman is facing investigation in relation to allegations that he played a key part in this."
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