The inspector in charge of the police operation at Hillsborough's attempts to "manipulate and manage" the public outcry last autumn should have cost him his job, the police watchdog has found.
A report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) out this morning found Sir Norman Bettison, who resigned as chief constable of West Yorkshire police force in October, had behaved so badly he deserved to be fired.
Bettison is facing further investigation relating to his role in the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 people died, and could face criminal charges following a separate ongoing probe by the Crown Prosecution Service.
After the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report in September he publicly insisted he would cooperate fully – but the IPCC today revealed he attempted to manipulate the public perception of the referral process for his own self-interest.
"The Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath have become synonymous in the public consciousness with allegations of police attempts to cover-up the truth, manipulate messages and deflect blame," IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said.
"Sir Norman is facing investigation in relation to allegations that he played a key part in this. We do not pre-judge the findings of that investigation.
"However, given the effect that those allegations have had on the public perception of him and policing generally, his attempts to manipulate and manage the perception of the referral of complaints about him, for his own self-interest, is particularly concerning. It is also conduct that falls far short of what should be expected of any chief constable."
No further action will be taken against Bettison for his handling of the referral process last year, as he has already quit five months ahead of his planned March 2013 resignation.
He continues to face the prospect of further proceedings being taken against him in relation to the Hillsborough disaster itself, however.
The CPS and IPCC's separate investigation is investigating accusations of manslaughter, perjury, and misconduct in public office.
In total 164 police statements made after Hillsborough were altered in order to remove blame from West Yorkshire police.