Ex-PSNI Chelsea fan in race row is 'a man of compassion'
A Chelsea football fan from Northern Ireland accused of being involved in a race row in which a black man was shoved off a train while racist chants were sung is a "man of compassion" dedicated to "healing the scars of the Troubles", a court has heard.
Former RUC and PSNI officer Richard Barklie (50) from Carrickfergus is one of four Chelsea supporters who all deny wrongdoing and are fighting police attempts to issue them with football banning orders.
Footage of the altercation on the Paris Metro after the London club played Paris St Germain in February sparked outrage and British police issued pictures of those suspected of being involved.
Video shows the man, named only as Mr Souleymane in court, being pushed off the Metro train as Chelsea supporters sang "we're racist, we're racist and that's the way we like it".
Barklie works as a director of the World Human Rights Forum. He is fighting to have the case dropped, saying the case does not fall under the jurisdiction of his home country of Northern Ireland.
He claims the Football Spectators Act 1989 only applies to England and Wales.
Nick Scott, for Barklie, told Stratford Magistrates Court in east London yesterday: "His work in human rights, healing the scars of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, shows what a man of compassion he is."
Barklie is charged with Jordan Munday (20), Josh Parsons (20) and William Simpson (26).
Video played in court shows Mr Souleymane being pushed off the busy train by Barklie.
But Barklie, a season ticketholder, denies he is a racist.
His lawyer Nick Scott suggested Barklie only pushed the man off the train because it was busy and there was not enough space.
He said: "There is a discussion between Mr Souleymane and those in the train for a couple of seconds. He tries to get in the train. He tries to force himself in the train and he is forced off. There are three people in the way filling up the door. He's just pushed off - no violence or aggression."
The video, played out in court, shows Barklie with his hands in his pocket and Mr Scott said there was no evidence to suggest he had been involved in the chanting.
Breaching a football banning order is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
Alison Gurden, representing Munday, who is seen on the Metro carriage as the race chants are sung, accused police of bringing the cases solely because they were under pressure to be seen to crack down on football hooliganism.
She told the court: "The reason you have brought this action against Mr Munday is purely because he was on the Metro train, and it had been considered something has to be done to make it look like the Metropolitan Police is stamping down on hooliganism."
Pc Neil West replied: "No. You can't get away from the fact it is a high-profile incident."
Ms Gurden added: "The implication is that Mr Munday is effectively being used as a scapegoat. In most situations an application wouldn't be made at this stage."