Hillsborough disaster

A former police chief has admitted that Liverpool FC fans were "in no way" to blame for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 fans died.

Sir Norman Bettison told an inquest into the tragedy that he was wrong to issue a statement in 2012 saying that fans' behaviour made it harder for police to do their jobs.

On 1 May, the second day of the inquest in Warrington, Cheshire, Bettison said he regretted the comments, which were made when he was under pressure over "very serious allegations of [a police] cover-up."

He was chief constable of West Yorkshire Police when he made the comments, a day after the publication of the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

In his statement on 13 September, 2012, he said: "[Lord Justice] Taylor was right in saying that the disaster was caused, mainly, through a lack of police control.

"Fans' behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be.

"But it didn't cause the disaster any more than the sunny day that encouraged people to linger outside the stadium as kick-off approached."

Bettison was a chief inspector at the time of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

He insisted that he was not part of an alleged cover-up by police to avoid responsibility for police failures and shift blame onto fans.

On Friday, he repeated his second statement from 2012, in which he apologised for his comments of 13 September by saying: "The fans of Liverpool Football Club were in no way to blame for the disaster."

"The police failed to control the situation which ultimately led to the tragic deaths of 96 entirely innocent people.

"I can be no plainer than that and I'm sorry if my earlier statement, intended to convey the same message, has caused further upset.

"My role was never to besmirch the fans. I did not do that."