UK & World News
Hillsborough Police Chief To Step Down
Sir Norman Bettison is to retire as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police after controversy over his role in the Hillsborough tragedy.
The announcement came after a damning report into the disaster - which saw 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 - revealed an orchestrated police cover-up.
He said: "Recent weeks have caused me to reflect on what is best for the future of policing in West Yorkshire and I have now decided to set a firm date for my retirement of 31 March 2013."
The Hillsborough Independent Panel, which had access to 450,000 documents, found that 164 police statements were doctored - 116 of them to remove or alter "unfavourable" comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
A complaint was made to police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that Sir Norman had supplied misleading information in the wake of the disaster.
The IPCC also said there was a second element to the referral, which related to a statement he made in September following the report.
In the statement, Sir Norman, who was the most senior serving officer involved in the discredited South Yorkshire Police investigation, said the Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing the tragedy "harder than it needed to be".
His comments sparked fury, and led to calls for him to resign.
Sir Norman responded with an apology and said his role was never to "besmirch" the fans and added that the Liverpool supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.
In a message posted on the West Yorkshire Police website, Sir Norman said he hoped his departure would assist the IPCC in its inquiry.
He said: "I hope it will enable the IPCC to fully investigate allegations that have been raised about my integrity. They need to be fairly and fully investigated and I welcome this independent and formal scrutiny."
Anne Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died in the tragedy, said the findings of the report left Sir Norman with no choice but to retire.
She said: "I think the whole lot of them who have been involved for these 23 years should all go for the hurt that they have caused us for 23 years. I don't think he would have retired if it wasn't for the Hillsborough report."
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "Obviously I'm very very pleased. I'm absolutely delighted that he's going.
"But then, he'll be going on his full pension, and I'd like to know the full reasons why he's choosing to retire as soon as this."