A complaint against the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in connection with the Hillsborough disaster has been referred to the police watchdog.
At today’s meeting of West Yorkshire Police Authority’s Special Committee, its members agreed to record a complaint against the Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison, and immediately referred it to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for investigation.
Sir Norman was attending the match in an off-duty capacity during the 1989 disaster but put himself on duty when the disorder began.
Chairman of the Special Committee, Richard Baldwin, said: "A number of factors led to the committee taking the decision to refer the complaint to the IPCC, including the gravity of the subject matter, the wholly exceptional circumstances and a pressing need to maintain public confidence in both policing governance and the police complaints system.
“It is important that the facts are fully established and evidence considered from other sources before any further decisions are taken.
“The IPCC, as an independent body with a statutory duty to uphold the police complaints system, is best placed to conduct such investigations.”
Yesterday Sir Norman was forced to apologise for any upset caused by his statement that Liverpool fans’ behaviour made policing at the Hillsborough tragedy “harder than it needed to be”.
He said his role was never to “besmirch” the fans and said the Reds’ supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.
The chief constable said he was “deeply sorry that impression and slight has lingered for 23 years”.Sir Norman was an off-duty South Yorkshire Police inspector when he attended the game and was involved in an internal inquiry held by the force in its aftermath.
On Thursday he denied any wrongdoing but sparked fury with his comments, which led to calls for him to resign.
In a statement released this afternoon, he said: "I welcome this step.
" I spoke with the Chief Executive of the Police Authority this morning and told him I would be pleased to see the Authority take this action.
"It is time this moved into a more formal and legal inquiry, where it can be considered, analysed and fully assessed."
Asked by ITV News yesterday, if he was part of a ``black operations unit'' to smear the fans, Sir Norman said: "No not at all, there wasn't a black ops unit.
"I wasn't part of it. I was part of a team trying to put together the facts in a concentrated time period for my chief constable."