When I first saw this article in the Liverpool Echo today I was genuinely taken aback. To see Bettison had written a book giving his interpretation of the events at Hillsborough, while the Crown Prosecution Service are still investigating whether any prosecutions should be made, is nothing short of shocking. It is set to be published this November and I can’t help but feel the timing of this publication is significant. Why not wait until after the CPS have concluded their investigation and the criminal justice services have presented all their evidence? Who exactly is Bettison trying to influence – the CPS? The general public? He says all the proceeds from the book will go to charity (which one I wonder?) so financial gain isn’t his primary motive. Also, he will no doubt be contradicting the conclusions reached by the coroner. Is it appropriate that someone who draws his income from one branch of the criminal justice services be allowed to criticise the verdicts, which took years to reach by the coroner, of another branch of the criminal justice services? Surely Bettison should only be allowed to do this once he is completely disconnected from the judiciary. Just when the families thought the accusations were beginning to subside this unsavoury turn of events occurs and I can only imagine how disgusted and depressed they were when the Echo dropped through their letterbox today.
‘Self-serving’ Norman Bettison has ‘skin of a rhino’ to write book on Hillsborough
Norman Bettison has been described as “self-serving” and with the “skin of a rhinoceros” after his decision to publish a book about Hillsborough .
The former Merseyside chief constable, who was a chief inspector in South Yorkshire at the time of the disaster, has penned Hillsborough Untold.
The book is due to be published in November and proceeds will go to charity.
Publishers, Biteback Publishing, say it will give an “objective and compassionate account of the bereaved families’ long struggle for justice”, but in it Mr Bettison will seek to explain why “he feels he has been unfairly scapegoated in Parliament and through print, broadcast and, significantly, social media”.
Garston MP Maria Eagle , who named Mr Bettison in the House of Commons as being involved in a “black propaganda campaign” , said she was “amazed” at the decision to publish a book.
She said: “To say that I am surprised by this turn of events is an understatement.
“I am amazed that Mr Bettison has decided to publish such a book.
“I am disturbed that he thinks it appropriate to do so before the CPS have made decisions about whether they wish to charge anybody with criminal offences arising out of the Hillsborough disaster and the subsequent cover up perpetrated and led by South Yorkshire Police, a force of which Mr Bettison was then a member.
“Unfortunately, over the many years since the disaster and the subsequent disgraceful cover up, he has exhibited an unseemly fascination with it and has frequently intervened in a way which has been both self-serving and insensitive to the feelings of the bereaved families, survivors and the interests of justice.
“This looks like another such distasteful example.”
Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: “I think it’s wholly inappropriate that he’s publishing a book while the director of public prosecutions is still giving consideration to criminal prosecutions.”
She added: “I think the idea that it would be sympathetic to families and survivors is totally disingenuous.
“This is the man who, after Hillsborough, went on to become chief constable of Merseyside in the face of great opposition.
“He has never been sympathetic.
“The fact he is willing and, indeed, enthusiastic about publishing a book just shows the man has the skin of a rhinoceros.”
Part of Mr Bettison’s role after the disaster including showing a video compilation to MPs in the Houses of Parliament.
Lou Brookes, whose brother Andrew died in the disaster, said: “If he had any compassion, he wouldn’t have shown a video of my brother, lying on a dirty gymnasium floor with a bin liner over his face, to MPs.
“I am surprised he has even been allowed to write this book.”
Chrissy Burke, daughter of victim Henry Burke , said: “I think Bettison needs investigating further so I don’t think he should even be allowed to print this book.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful.”
Lawyer Elkan Abrahamson, who represents 20 of the 96 families, said: “It seems inappropriate and insensitive to say the least for a former chief constable to put out a book at this stage, when active consideration is being given to criminal proceedings arising from the Hillsborough tragedy and when families are grieving anew following the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests.
“I would ask Mr Bettison to exercise some restraint and reconsider the timing of his publication.”
A spokeswoman for the IPCC said they were aware of the book but would not be commenting.