Wolves chairman Steve Morgan was caught up in a Hillsborough storm today after inviting ex-police chief Sir Norman Bettison to a big match.
Mr Morgan was pictured shaking hands with the retired officer during Wolves’ away clash with Bradford City on Saturday.
Wolves today confirmed he was a guest of the the club’s owner – who once wanted to buy Liverpool FC – at the game.
Wolves today issued a statement saying: “Steve Morgan has known Norman Bettison for a number of years and he has attended Wolves games – both at Molineux and away from home – on many occasions before.
"Everyone connected with the club has the utmost sympathy and respect for the victims of Hillsborough and their families, and today’s Express & Star story should in no way detract from those heartfelt sentiments.”
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Sir Norman was the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation over his role in the alleged cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster.
He is a controversial figure in Mr Morgan’s native Merseyside, with families of the victims of the disaster calling for him to be stripped of his knighthood.
Images of Mr Morgan, who took over Wolves in 2007, and Sir Norman standing next to each other at Valley Parade during Saturday’s 2-1 Wolves victory have been released, sparking widespread anger from football fans and Hillsborough justice campaigners today.
More than 2,300 fans voted in an Express & Star online poll today asking if Mr Morgan was right to invite Sir Norman to the game. By 1pm 73 per cent had said no.
Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: “Morgan has the right to do whatever he chooses and mix with whoever he chooses. But as someone who wanted to buy Liverpool Football Club and professes to be a Liverpool supporter, you are judged by the company you keep.
“This cuts to the heart of what we are campaigning for and Steve Morgan would be brave to turn up at a Liverpool match now.”
Fans also took to Twitter, with one, tweeting as Lastofadyingbreed, saying: “Steve Morgan has sold his soul and spat in the face of the 96 and everyone involved in the justice campaign.”
Express & Star columnist John Lalley, a lifelong Wolves fan, said: “It’s not for me to be judgmental of Mr Morgan. He will choose his friends and I will choose mine and Sir Norman Bettison has not been convicted of any crime.
“But for Steve Morgan to be pictured with this man in public, given his links with Liverpool and the fact that 96 innocent people from Mr Morgan’s own city lost their lives, does seem to me to be a little insensitive at the very least.”
Sir Norman resigned as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police in October 2012 claiming an inquiry into his role in the Hillsborough tragedy was a ‘distraction’ to the force.
At the time of the 1989 disaster, in which 96 people died, he was an inspector for the South Yorkshire force and attended the FA Cup match.
He also took part in an internal inquiry and was referred to the IPCC over allegations he had provided misleading information.
In March this year, the IPCC said he would have had a case to answer for ‘discreditable conduct and abuse of authority’ but it was powerless to take any further action because he was no longer a serving officer. The IPCC stressed this did not mean he was guilty as that verdict could only come from a misconduct hearing, which was not possible due to his resignation.
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