NEWS
23/10/2012 05:52 BST

Hillsborough Police Chief Sir Norman Bettison 'Boasted About Plot To Fit Up Liverpool Fans', MP Alleges

Sir Norman Bettison boasted about a plot to "fit up the Liverpool fans" in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy, an MP has claimed during in a House of Commons debate.

Maria Eagle, MP for Garston and Halewood in Merseyside, quoted a letter written in 1998 from John Barry, who survived the football stadium crush which killed 96 people, to solicitor Ann Adlington in which alleges he was told by Bettinson that police were trying to "concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk" in 1989, the year the tragedy happened.

"Some weeks after the game, and after I had been interviewed by West Midlands Police, we were in a pub after our weekly evening class [at Sheffield Business School]," Barry wrote in the letter, quoted by Eagle.

Bettison has faced questions over his conduct during the Hillsborough investigation

“He told me that he had been asked by his senior officers to put together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the forthcoming inquiry. He said that ‘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’."

Eagle told MPs that Barry had later "confirmed to me in the covering letter in 2009 that the middle-ranking police officer to whom he referred is Norman Bettison.

"He has agreed to swear a statement to that effect and I have put him in touch with the families’ solicitors."

She added: "What Sir Norman denies in public he boasts about in private conversations."

The comments came during a parliamentary debate as it was revealed the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been given the names of 1,444 officers, including 304 serving police, to investigate over to the disaster.

The news has led to questions about the ability of the police watchdog to cope with its own investigation in to the Hillsborough disaster.

MPs said they were concerned the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) did not have the resources or manpower to handle the investigation on its own.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the investigation could not be run just by the watchdog, while Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said there was a "problem in respect of resources".

Speaking during a debate in the Commons, Ms Cooper said: "These investigations are beyond the scale of anything the IPCC have done before and it will also require powers that the IPCC simply doesn't have."

The watchdog was asked to investigate South Yorkshire Police's role in the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans during a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium in April 1989.

The damning Hillsborough Independent Panel report revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the lives lost could have been saved.

Bettison, who is being investigated by the IPPC, over claims that he gave misleading information in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster had previously denied altering any statements or asking for any to be altered.