Sir Norman Bettison will probably go down in history as the country’s most notorious policeman and one who has severely damaged the public’s perception of the police service in the past few months. He also faces a number of criminal and misconduct investigations that have surfaced since his diabolical PR gaffe (aided and abetted by ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde), in September 2012, when he still wished to apportion blame onto the Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster.
It also emerged in the dramatic new BBC Panorama documentary (Investigated and narrated by Peter Marshall on 20th May 2013) that Bettison simply saw the death of 96 people (including 20 children) as a ‘chance for recognition’ for himself and others peddling the “drunken, ticketless, non-compliant” spin. An interview with a retired police officer, Inspector Clive Davis, claims former Merseyside Chief Constable Bettison, at the time a chief inspector in South Yorkshire Police, was aware of efforts to hide the truth within hours of the tragedy and was arranging meetings with other officers to play their part in managing the conspiracy and subsequent 23 year cover-up. Bettison denies these claims.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found in their own independent probe, led by senior investigator, Steve Reynolds, into the disgraced ex-West Yorkshire Police Chief, that Bettison would have faced a disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct if he was still engaged in the police service. Bettison was accused of making an inappropriate phone call to the Police Authority’s Chief Executive, Fraser Sampson, on 15th September and the IPCC found that he ‘sought to exert undue influence’ over the Authority’s decision to refer him to the IPCC, in the aftermath of the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report three days earlier.
The IPCC investigation, published on 28th March, 2013 concluded as follows: “He attempted to manipulate the public perception of the referral process for his own self interest. As a result he 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. It is also conduct that falls far short of what should be expected of any Chief Constable.”
The same could be said about the further startling revelations made by the Daily Star at the end of June 2013 when, after intervention by the Information Commissioner’s office (details of ICO decision here), West Yorkshire Police were forced to reveal internal emails sent and received by Bettison immediately after the publication of the Panel report. It was abundantly clear that he was mis-using valuable police resources and manpower in order to deflect attention away from what was revealed about his role after the disaster. Full story here.
It has also emerged that Bettison lied about his use of his mobile phone on Friday 14th September, 2012 when he hurriedly disappeared to Surrey for the day, ostensibly on leave. He told IPCC investigators that his phone was in an area with no signal, yet records revealed he used the phone fourteen times that day.
In another matter of great public interest Bettison is, more seriously, accused of the theft and attempted sale of a high-value consignment of platinum wire. Derbyshire Police will probe the allegation that two men, one of whom is claimed to be Bettison and the other his father George (now deceased), were recorded on CCTV attempting to sell a large quantity of stolen platinum wire to Sheffield firm Johnson Matthey on August 11, 1987. Not long after Bettison had returned to South Yorkshire Police after a 3 year stint at Oxford University paid for, of course, by the taxpayer.
The valuable wire, used to monitor very high temperatures in the steel-making process, is believed to have belonged to another Sheffield firm where Bettison’s father worked. In November 2012 Bassettlaw MP John Mann asked the IPCC to scope the allegations. The IPCC has referred the claims back to South Yorkshire Police, which has in turn invited Derbyshire Police to conduct an outside force investigation. The IPCC have, incredibly, claimed that this was ‘a minor crime committed a long time ago‘.
Mr Mann, who worked closely with the Yorkshire Post’s Rob Waugh in exposing the scandal, commented: “It is good to see this isn’t being swept under the carpet.” We say to Mr Mann, don’t be too sure about that. South Yorkshire Police, now led by Bettison’s former long-time Deputy and fellow Rogue Chief, David Crompton, claim that the criminal investigation file has disapppeared along with all evidence and exhibits which, of course, includes the CCTV footage. Also, allegedly disappeared is the internal disciplinary file that was prepared against Bettison at the time of theft investigation. Derbyshire Police subsequently announced after a six month investigation that Bettison “had no case to answer“.
There is the remote possibility, of course, that the Johnson Mathey CCTV film might be found resting alongside the CCTV tapes that were mysteriously ‘stolen’ from the locked Control Room in the South Stand at Hillsborough stadium on the night of the disaster, where 95 people had already died with hundreds more survivors of Pens 3 and 4 injured, or severely traumatised. uPSD have now placed Bettison at the stadium between 1.00am and 4.30am on that night but no-one can actually acount for his movements or say what he was actually supposed to be doing there.
Bettison is also further accused by two former MBA fellow students who have, independently, claimed that Bettison bragged about the Hillsborough cover up to them. The first of the two made his deposition to solicitor and MP, Maria Eagle, as far back as 1998. It is understood that these allegations will be lumped together with the broader accusations of Bettison’s role in the Hillsborough ‘Black Ops’ squad which was, allegedly, led by South Yorkshire Police C/Supt Terry Wain.
Maria Eagle MP met Bettison in 1998 at the House of Commons and this is what she said about that encounter: “He tried to push me around, not physically, but he tried to intimidate me. He said I had been telling lies about him. I said I stood by every word I had said and believe it to be true” She added the meeting was supposed to be confidential or as Bettison’s intermediary put it “on the QT“, but details of it were subsequently leaked. “I did not end up impressed with his integrity.” You are not in a minority of one, there, Maria.
Bettison was also consistently pressed by uPSD to denounce paedophilia both within his own ranks (read more about West Yorkshire Police’s own alarming list of paedophiles here) and amongst the wider public. As allegation after damaging allegation has subsequently emerged concerning the Jimmy Savile cover-up, a potential reason why Bettison declined to make a definitive statement, some months earlier, became much more clear. The IPCC are currently in the process of making a mode of investigation decision concerning the failings of West Yorkshire Police in allowing Leeds-based Savile to commit 76 rape and child abuse offences on his home patch, and under the noses of his police officer friends. In the meantime uPSD have outed the TENTH West Yorkshire Police paedophile, making it easily the most infested Force in the UK.
Another new corruption enquiry has recently been ordered into another long-running West Yorkshire Police cover-up in which Bettison was heavily involved. Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary has asked Greater Manchester Police to investigate the Danny Major miscarriage of justice. A piece that appeared in The Times newspaper on Saturday 26th January 2013 and can be read here. Terms of reference have been agreed between the family, Greater Manchester Police and the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire and the investigation, codenamed Operation Lamp, is now well under way. All the indications are that Danny Major’s name will be cleared at the outcome of the investigation and the police officers who framed him will face criminal proceedings themselves. It will be another huge stain on the reputation on both West Yorkshire Police and Bettison, who was, it appears, determined that the wrong man remain convicted of a crime he didn’t commit in the interests of police force reputation management.
The notorious police perjury and perverting the course of justice affair known as Operation Douglas is also on Bettison’s CV three times over. (1) He, incredibly, recruited the very officer at the heart of the scandal (from Merseyside Police oddly enough) SIO Superintendent John Holt. (2) Bettison was part of the Command Team that indulged itself with ‘prosecutoral misconduct of the gravest kind‘ at the time the offences took place (3) Then returned as Chief Constable in 2006 to frustrate the outside police force investigation by North Yorkshire Police that was to go on for another two years. He also accidentally forget to let his own Police Authority have a copy of the outside police force report at its conclusion. This in spite of the investigation lasting almost seven years and costing the West Yorkshire taxpayer over £3 million.
What has now also emerged is that Bettison was aware of Police Authority Chief Executive Fraser Sampson‘s role in Operation Douglas. Incredibly, Sampson actually acted as solicitor for some of the most corrupt officers who were never prosecuted. It is believed that the two of them conspired to conceal the final investigation report from the seventeen Police Authority elected and independent Members as this would have exposed Sampson’s conflict of interest and also the very senior officer who recruited the discredited and disgraced Supt Holt.
There is a cruel twist of fate to all of this alarming schedule of facts and allegations. The public of Merseyside are paying Bettison’s £88,000 pa (and rising) pension and the West Yorkshire constituents are funding all of Bettison’s huge legal bills due to a ludicrous arrangement entered into by the former Police Authority, headed by the current Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson. See here for full details. Bettison has secured the services of John Harding of Kingsley Napley in London, who is one of the most expensive lawyers in the country.
Conversely and perversely, Bettison was one of the driving forces behind the taking away or reducing of the pensions of retired Injured on Duty officers. That failed enterprise cost the Force a substantial sum of money when West Yorkshire Police lost a High Court challenge to his decision by the pensioners. HH Judge Brian Langstaff noted in his judgement: “That reviews by (West Yorkshire Police) of police injury pensions payable under the Police (Injury Benefit ) Regulations 2006 were unlawfully conducted” Full details of that debacle can be found on our website here.
There was also another crucial role for Bettison in yet another Courtroom Disaster. In the highly publicised software ‘theft’ case which West Yorkshire Police defended against Kent-based Forensic Telecommunications Services Ltd., Bettison was given the chance, by FTS, to settle the case on favourable terms a week before the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice. Instead, Bettison bluntly told the very high-ranking police intermediary acting on behalf of FTS (believed to be Lord Stevens): “We have a very good case and I am going to break that firm“. West Yorkshire Police, however, lost the court case and the taxpayer picked up the bill for over £600,000 together with another external police force inquiry into their running of that case.
More recently, Bettison was referred to the IPCC yet again over allegations that he smeared a celebrated race-relations worker whose evidence played a key part in the damning inquiry into the police handling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. Mohammed Amran – who was honoured for his efforts in the aftermath of the 1995 Bradford riots but heavily criticised West Yorkshire Police during his evidence to the Macpherson Inquiry in the same city three years later – has been notified of “alarming” evidence relating to Bettison by the West Yorkshire Police Crime & Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.
Other startling revelations currently under investigation by uPSD and the Liverpool Echo include serious allegations concerning the propriety and accuracy of the CV presented to Merseyside Police Authority when Bettison applied for the post of Chief Constable. If proved, they could lead to MPA clawing back salary and benefits, including his pension. Read more on Bettison’s CV by clicking here.
Sir Norman Bettison has steadfastly refused to comment to the media himself but, through his former Norfolk Constabulary and ACPO PR advisor Anne Campbell, has consistently denied any wrongdoing whatsoever. On any count.
Page last updated on Saturday 5th October 2013 at 1055hrs