Iain Dale, MD of Biteback Publishing, has acquired world rights to Hillsborough Untold by the former Chief Constable of both Merseyside and West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison.

On 15 April 1989, ninety-six spectators lost their lives at Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium as they gathered for an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The events that day sparked a controversy that continues to reverberate through British football and policing.

Norman Bettison was a Chief Inspector in the South Yorkshire Police at the time of the Hillsborough disaster, and witnessed the tragedy as a spectator at the match. Bettison has since found himself one of the focal points of outrage over the actions of the police. Not in respect of the day of the disaster but in its aftermath. Comments he made in the wake of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in 2012 stoked further criticism in the press and in Parliament, and in October 2012, he resigned from his job as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police.

This personal account describes how the Hillsborough disaster unfolded; provides an insight into what was happening at South Yorkshire Police headquarters in the aftermath; and gives an objective and compassionate account of the bereaved families’ long struggle for justice. The author is clear that the Hillsborough families have deserved answers as to why and how the ninety-six died. This book seeks respectfully to explain, however, why he feels he has been unfairly scapegoated in Parliament and through print, broadcast and, significantly, social media, and why that may have distracted from the inquiry’s aims.

This book will add to the knowledge about Hillsborough, addressing current narratives about the disaster and its aftermath.  

Norman Bettison said: ‘I wrote this account because I did not want my forty-year professional career to be defined by false accusations. The book should appeal to anyone with an open mind who remains curious about one of the UK’s most tragic, and controversial, peacetime disasters.

Iain Dale said: ‘Hillsborough was one of the most devastating tragedies in recent British history, causing untold grief and anger to the families and friends of those who died, and spawning hundreds of individual stories. One of those stories belongs to Sir Norman Bettison, a former senior policeman who was there on the day as a football supporter, and later found himself caught up in accusations of a police conspiracy to push the blame for Hillsborough onto the fans. His is a story that has never been heard in its entirety. At Biteback, while we deeply respect the rawness of emotions surrounding Hillsborough, we hope Sir Norman’s voice can only add to the ongoing narrative and maybe shed some new light into what happened on the day and why the aftermath was handled so disastrously, and callously, by the police, politicians and football authorities.

The author will be donating his proceeds from sales of the book to charity.

Hillsborough Untold will be published in November 2016.