Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IPCC finds case to answer for gross misconduct against Sir Norman Bettison
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has concluded Sir Norman Bettison would have a case to answer for gross misconduct following an investigation into an allegation that he attempted to influence a referral by West Yorkshire Police Authority (WYPA).
The IPCC independently investigated Sir Norman's actions in relation to the process by which complaints about his actions in relation to the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster were referred to the IPCC.
The investigation focussed on contact between Sir Norman, Fraser Sampson (the Chief Executive of WYPA) and Mark Burns-Williamson (Chair of WYPA) and whether there was any attempt by Sir Norman to improperly influence, intercept, delay and/or distort the deliberations of the Authority.
While it was evident Sir Norman made no attempt to prevent the referral happening, the IPCC investigation concluded that he attempted to manipulate the public perception of the referral process for his own self interest.
As a result the IPCC concluded Sir Norman had a case to answer for discreditable conduct and abuse of authority, breaches which, if proven in a disciplinary hearing, would amount to gross misconduct as they would justify dismissal.
However as Sir Norman left the police service in October 2012 he cannot face a disciplinary hearing in which the evidence could be tested. Instead the IPCC is publishing its findings for the public to judge.
IPCC Deputy Chair Deborah Glass said: "The Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath have become synonymous in the public consciousness with allegations of police attempts to cover-up the truth, manipulate messages and deflect blame. Sir Norman is facing investigation in relation to allegations that he played a key part in this. We do not pre-judge the findings of that investigation. However, given the effect that those allegations have had on the public perception of him and policing generally, his attempts to manipulate and manage the perception of the referral of complaints about him, for his own self-interest, is particularly concerning. It is also conduct that falls far short of what should be expected of any Chief Constable.
"It was the IPCC's view at the start of the investigation, as it was the view of his Police Authority, that Sir Norman's actions, if proven, fell so far short of what is expected of a Chief Constable that dismissal would be justified. The evidence uncovered during the investigation supports that view.
"While we cannot bring this case to misconduct proceedings, we can publish the evidence and our conclusions, so that the public can judge for themselves. This case should also serve as a salutary reminder to chief officers everywhere of how much public confidence in policing is damaged when the conduct of leaders is called into question. "
A copy of the investigation report can be found here.