25 Oct 2012

Hillsborough police officer to stand down earlier

5:33 am on 25 October 2012

A senior police officer accused of taking part in a cover-up of police failings in the worst sporting disaster in British history says he'll retire.

Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, says he'll stand down to allow a full investigation into charges he misled official inquiries into the 1989 soccer stadium crush at Hillsborough, Sheffield, in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed.

Earlier this month, he announced he would retire in March, but is standing down early to prevent the investigation affecting police activities.

Bettison, who denies any wrongdoing, was off-duty but present at the stadium when the tragedy occurred.

A damning report last month uncovered evidence that the police response to the disaster had been flawed, that 41 lives could have been saved and that officers had tried to dishonestly deflect the blame on to fans.

Following its publication, a police watchdog body said it was considering two complaints against Bettison.

The most serious alleged that he "was involved in the production and supply of misleading information" for official inquiries into the disaster.