Sir Norman Bettison, the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, would have a case to answer for “discreditable conduct and abuse of authority” in the wake of last year’s Hillsborough revelations, the police watchdog has found.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has carried out an investigation into Sir Norman, who resigned last year, after allegations that he attempted to influence a referral by West Yorkshire Police Authority (WYPA).
It focussed on contact between Sir Norman, Fraser Sampson (the chief executive of WYPA) and Mark Burns-Williamson (the then chairman of WYPA) and whether there was any attempt by Sir Norman to improperly influence, intercept, delay and/or distort the deliberations of the Authority.
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.
Deborah Glass, deputy chairwoman of the IPCC,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. We do not pre-judge the findings of that investigation. However, given the effect that those allegations have had on the public perception of him and policing generally, his attempts to manipulate and manage the perception of the referral of complaints about him, for his own self-interest, is particularly concerning. It is also conduct that falls far short of what should be expected of any Chief Constable.
“It was the IPCC’s view at the start of the investigation, as it was the view of his Police Authority, that Sir Norman’s actions, if proven, fell so far short of what is expected of a Chief Constable that dismissal would be justified. The evidence uncovered during the investigation supports that view.
“While we cannot bring this case to misconduct proceedings, we can publish the evidence and our conclusions, so that the public can judge for themselves. This case should also serve as a salutary reminder to chief officers everywhere of how much public confidence in policing is damaged when the conduct of leaders is called into question.