Hillsborough: Police chief resigns

The resignation of under-fire West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison has been welcomed by relatives of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Norman resigned after weeks of criticism since the Hillsborough Independent Panel report revealed a huge police cover-up in the wake of the tragedy, which left 96 Liverpool fans dead.

Earlier this week, the pressure on the long-serving officer intensified with claims that he bragged about being asked to "concoct" an account of what happened when he was investigating the 1989 disaster as a South Yorkshire Police chief inspector.

Sir Norman has always denied any involvement in a cover-up or any wrong-doing. He said he resigned because the controversy had become a "distraction to policing in West Yorkshire".

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Families Support Group (HFSG), welcomed the announcement but said Sir Norman's pension should be frozen while the investigation takes place into the police cover-up.

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted he's gone but as far as I am concerned he should have been sacked. I would now like to know what payments and pension he's going to get."

Sir Norman's resignation was announced by the vice-chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, Les Carter, at a hastily arranged press conference in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, ahead of a meeting which was scheduled to discuss the chief's position.

In a statement issued through the authority, Sir Norman said he had never blamed the fans for the tragedy.

Sir Norman dismissed the claim first highlighted by Merseyside MP Maria Eagle that he had bragged about "concocting" the police version of events, describing the allegation as "both incredible and wrong".

Trevor Hicks, president of the HFSG, said: "We welcome the resignation, because Mr Bettison's position had become untenable and was growing more so with every day that passed. His was a position of trust and he had lost that trust a long time ago." Mr Hicks also said Sir Norman's resignation was long overdue and called for him to be stripped of his knighthood.