The families of Hillsborough victims have welcomed the resignation of a top police officer who criticised Liverpool fans in the wake of the tragedy but questioned why the police chief was retiring and whether he should get his full pension.

Sir Norman Bettison is to step down as the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in March next year amid an investigation by the police watchdog.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "Obviously I'm very, very pleased. I'm absolutely delighted that he's going.

"But then he'll be going on his full pension, and I'd like to know the full reasons why he's choosing to retire as soon as this."

margaret aspinall

Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son in the disaster, reacts after the release of previously unpublished papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Norman Bettison, then a South Yorkshire Police chief inspector, sparked fury in 1989 when he said supporters made policing "harder than it needed to be".

A complaint was made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that Sir Norman - who was off duty on April 15 1989 and went to the match in Sheffield as a spectator - had supplied misleading information after the disaster.

The IPCC also said there was a second element to the referral, which related to a statement the officer made last month following the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

bettinson

The families of Hillsborough victims have raised concerns over why Bettison has stepped down and whether he will receive his pension

Mrs Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, said: "Why didn't he stay, then, until the IPCC came out with their investigation?

"But he's decided to leave. I'm not arguing against it, because I'm thrilled that he is going, but if he's got nothing to hide, why is he retiring?

"The man has got something to worry about."

Trevor Hicks, who lost his two daughters, 19-year-old Sarah and 15-year-old Victoria, told ITV News: "I'm glad he's realised his position is untenable. However, I'm determined that he does not escape his just desserts and I will make sure he's stripped of his knighthood.

"He should leave with nothing, like he tried to leave the families."

Anne Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died on the Leppings Lane terrace, said the findings of the recent report left Sir Norman with no choice but to retire.

She said: "I think the whole lot of them who have been involved for these 23 years should all go for the hurt that they have caused us for 23 years.

"I don't think he would have retired if it wasn't for the Hillsborough report."