Norman Bettison denies allegations that he reported plans by police to blame drunk fans for Hillsborough.

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Mr Bettison, who was Chief Inspector of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster, began testifying today about the investigation into the death of 96 Liverpool fans.

Former Merseyside Chief Constable Norman Bettison denied allegations that he told schoolchildren in a pub that the police were trying to blame drunk fans for the Hillsborough disaster.

The former Chief Constable of Merseyside began his evidence-gathering to investigate the 96 deaths.

He said that he was with him after class one evening in May at the Fleur de Lys pub when Mr Bettison said: “My senior officers have asked me to gather the evidence from South Yorkshire Police for the investigation and we are going to try to fabricate a story that all Liverpool fans were drunk and that we were afraid they were going to break the gates, so we decided to open them.

John Barry, who testified before Mr. Bettison, said that he was a student in a business course with Mr. Bettison in 1989.

He added, “It was a very businesslike tone. He only told what he had been told to tell.

Mr. Barry, who was at the game on April 15, 1989, sitting in the stands above the pens where the fatal collision occurred, said, “It was a very matter-of-fact tone: “I was stunned. I was simply shocked. I was shocked.”

The jury also heard from Mark Ellaby, another student who described another conversation with Mr. Bettison in the pub in the weeks following the catastrophe.

“I think if I had thought about it then, and I was asked a few years later, why did he… I think I thought that he might have felt it was a feather on his hat and an indication of how well he was doing his job.

He said he felt that Mr. Bettison saw it as a “positive career move.

Mr Ellaby said: “I remember Mr Bettison saying that he had just been seconded to an internal South Yorkshire Police team to ensure that South Yorkshire Police were not to blame for the Hillsborough disaster and that it was all the fault of the drunk supporters of Liverpool.

He added: “I think we were just a little surprised that he said what he was really doing.

“Whether he said explicitly that I can’t remember, but it was certainly implied.

“I was definitely left with the conclusion that it was an internal group trying to cover up the role of South Yorkshire Police in the Hillsborough tragedy.

He said he remembered a conversation in the pub after class on Monday immediately after the disaster.

Mr Bettison, who was in court on all the evidence, denied having told Mr Barry that he was “plotting” anything and told the court that he had not attended the course in May or June 1989.

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