Norman Bettison reports on the investigations in Hillsborough: “I was not involved in a black propaganda unit”.


Mr Bettison, who was Chief Inspector of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the tragedy, on 15 April 1989, was questioned by lawyers representing the families of the 96 victims when he testified for a third day.

The former Chief Constable of Merseyside, Norman Bettison, told the Hillsborough investigations that he had not been involved in any “black propaganda unit” after the disaster.

Former Merseyside Chief Constable said he was “not embarrassed” by his role after the disaster.

“I was not involved in a black propaganda unit to blame the fans.

Mr. Bettison said, “Let me make one thing clear: I’m not embarrassed by the subject.

He was asked why, when he applied for the top position in the Merseyside force, he did not mention his role in a team led by Chief Superintendent Terry Wain, which was charged with finding “suitable material” for lawyers to present the police case after the disaster.

“This context is very different from the context you are trying to create in this courtroom”.

“The subject matter at issue here is seen in the context of the current narrative rather than the situation in which I was in Merseyside in 1998, nine years after the Hillsborough disaster, for an interview for a job, and when I had not been criticized for any aspect of my work in the two/three months of work I did immediately after the disaster.

The court was presented with the minutes of an informal meeting that took place with Mr. Bettison and members of the Merseyside Police Department in November 1998, following his appointment.

At the meeting Mr Bettison was asked why he had not mentioned Hillsborough when asked about the incident he wished to forget.

“I didn’t interpret it to mean the most traumatic.”

It was recorded in the transcript that he said, “I did not interpret it to mean the most traumatic: “How did I interpret the question you are referring to? I thought it referred to my proudest performance and most embarrassing incident as a police officer.

He added: “The most embarrassing moment that came to mind was the fall on my first day in uniform.

He said that some members of the police force were embarrassed that they had not interviewed him directly about Hillsborough during his interview, even though they had received a report from Her Majesty’s Police Inspectorate mentioning his role.

“Nothing about Hillsborough embarrasses me. I was not thinking of Hillsborough when the question was asked.”

He said: “It was a word I used in a briefing to Merseyside Police Department on November 2, and I used it specifically to point out that I was not involved in the planning of the operation, not in the operational management of the Hillsborough event, and not in the organization of the rescue operation or the decisions made in the 24 hours that followed.

Mr. Bettison told the inquiries that he believed that the bereaved were upset by his description of his work in relation to Hillsborough as “peripheral”.


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