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Hillsborough cop probed over Stephen Lawrence smear claims

Family concerned: Stephen Lawrence's relatives allegedly were targeted by a police smear campaign

A HIGH-RANKING officer who resigned over his role in the Hillsborough disaster has been referred to the police watchdog over fresh claims he tried to discredit the family of Stephen Lawrence.

According to the BBC, Sir Norman George Bettison has now been reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over concerns he tried to influence the way a key witness gave evidence to the Macpherson Inquiry.

The referral was made by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson who said he had "significant concerns".

He said: "These documents raise significant concerns over the role of Sir Norman Bettison at the time he was Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in 1998 in commissioning a report to be prepared in the respect of a key witness appearing before the Macpherson Inquiry.

"This may suggest an attempt to intervene in the course of a public inquiry and influence the manner in which the testimony of a witness, who was due to present evidence before it, was received.

"I have today referred this to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

Mr Mark Gilmore, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The allegations made against two other Police Forces and the material we have found in connection with the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry raise significant issues of not just public confidence and trust, but also public interest.

"In the interests of openness and transparency I have today referred this matter to the IPCC so that an independent body can assess these matters so that the public can have full confidence in any outcome. West Yorkshire Police will cooperate fully with the IPCC and assist in any way we can to get to the truth.”

The development follows claims from whistleblower Peter Francis that he was asked to dig up dirt on the murdered teenager’s grieving family and anti-racist supporters who were supported them following the killing in April 1993.

Bettison was asked to step down from his role as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in 2012 amid controversy about his role in the Hillsborough cover-up of police errors.

The Hillsborough disaster took place in 1989 and resulted in the death of 96 Liverpool football fans.

More to follow.

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