Tuesday, 23 October 2012

First Hillsborough, now did South Yorks Police doctor evidence at Battle of Olgreave?

Today, the Yorkshire Post's political editor, Jack Blanchard, claimed that 'allegationws that Sir Norman Bettison privately boasted that South Yorkshire Police were "trying to concoct a story" blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster were revealed to Parliament by a senior MP last night.'  Merseyside Labour MP, Maria Eagle, gave an account of a letter from John Barry in which he outlined a conversation he had had with Sir Norman; Mr Barry wrote:  'Some weeks after the (Hillsborough) game, and after I had been interviewed by West Midlands Police, we were in a pub after our weekly evening class.  He (Norman Bettison) told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry.'  According to Mr Barry, Bettison, then a middle ranking police officer, had said:  'we are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them'

Sir Norman Bettison, who is now chief constable of the West Yorkshire Police, and is facing two separate investigations over his conduct by the police watchdog, has always denied any part in the cover-up that followed the stadium disaster.  Sir Norman has announced that he will retire next March following the referral of his case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over claims that he gave misleading information in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster and that he tried to influence West Yorkshire Police Authority's decision-making process in relation to the referral.

West Yorkshire Police has failed to make an immediate response to Maria Eagle's allegations.  But some are now calling for Sir Norman's immediate resignation.

It has been a bad week so far for the police in Yorkshire, as it is not only their conduct in the Hillsborough disaster that is now being questioned, but pressure is building up for the police evidence to be examined after the case against 95 striking miners at the 'Battle of Olgreave' collapsed.  The prosecution withdrew after a Home Office handwriting expert gave evidence that a police officer's signature had been forged.  The South Yorkshire Police stated that these police statements 'amounted to inaccurate, perjured evidence at the very least, and called into credibility ... the chief constable'

Chris Kitchen, the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, who was at Orgreave as a 17-year-old on strike, said the miners have ever since maintained they were the victims of police malpractice including fabricating evidence to secure convictions.  Mr Kitchen said:  'We want an investigation into what the South Yorkshire police, and other forces, did during the strike, now we have seen the proven malpractice following Hillsborough exposed for what it was.'  The implications of the police propaganda following the Hillsborough disaster and the police conduct during the Olgreave operation and prosecutions, now seriously threatens the reputation and credibility of those involved.

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