Norman Bettison may have believed that taking early retirement from South Yorkshire Police would provide immunity from any possible criminal investigation into his role in the Hillsborough cover-up. Today's statements by the Director of Public Prosecutions & the Independent Police Complaints Commission will have disabused him of that notion (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/12/hillsborough-disaster-biggest-inquiry-police ).
The words of the IPCC's Deborah Glass will concentrate Bettison's mind:
"We are going to be launching an independent investigation into those new matters. We've carried out a review of the report and begun looking at the 450,000 pages of underlying evidence. We have identified a large number of potential criminal and misconduct offences".
Just in case Bettison is slow to absorb the ramifications of those words, Glass helpfully elaborates:
"A large number of current and former officers will be under investigation, including Sir Norman Bettison".
That Bettison is still very much under scrutiny will be welcome to the families of the 96. Scrutiny of the decision by Carol Gustafson to support Bettison's appointment as Merseyside Police Chief Constable in 1998 will also be intensified. The Labour councillor for Bootle's Derby Ward has caused anxiety within the ruling Labour group on Sefton Council; one councillor has privately conceded that Gustafson's stance could cost the party a couple of Bootle seats, a hitherto unthinkable notion. Many within the Bootle Constituency Labour Party are also livid that Gustafson's emphatic refusal to even discuss the issue has turned what may have been an entirely private matter into a political one; there are uncorroborated, though persistent, rumours that Gustafson's relationship with Bettison was more than professional & platonic.
Whatever the machinations of Sefton's Labour Group, one thing is for sure, today's news represents a quantum leap for the families in their long fight for justice, as David Conn expounds in a companion Guardian piece (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/12/ipcc-hillsborough-inquiry-vindication-families ):
"The families want justice now, and they will not be satisfied until people and organisations are held accountable. Yet whatever happens, this is another day of complete vindication for their complaints, their outrage at perceived injustice, the knowledge they were subjected to police blame-shifting and cover-up, when also dealing with the needless, horrific deaths of their loved ones."
How galling it must be for the families that a local Labour councillor is of the view that personal considerations of ego & vanity should take precedence over justice for the 96.