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Man convicted of false racism claim

A man has been found guilty of falsely claiming a traffic warden had racially abused him and attacked him to avoid paying for a parking ticket.

Ben Hlal had parked on double yellow lines outside a supermarket in Fareham, Hampshire, when he was approached by Andrew Lynch, a civic enforcement officer (CEO) from the local council.

Portsmouth Crown Court was told Mr Lynch warned the 45-year-old that he was parked illegally and he would issue a parking ticket if he did not move on.

But by the time Mr Lynch returned to the vehicle, Hlal, who is originally from Tunisia but lives in Fareham, had claimed to another CEO that he had been racially abused and assaulted by Mr Lynch.

Mr Lynch was arrested and suspended from his job at Fareham Borough Council while the case was investigated. He was allowed to return to work more than five weeks later after police decided there was no case to answer.

Hlal was found guilty by a jury of two charges of perverting the course of public justice.

Louisa Bagley, prosecuting, said: "He (Mr Lynch) was an innocent man, albeit a traffic warden, and you may have your own views about those who issue parking tickets.

"Mr Hlal wanted to get around having to pay for that penalty ticket and hence made this allegation in order to avoiding paying for that ticket."

The second charge against Hlal involved him making another false allegation that a consultant doctor had racially abused him outside a hospital.

Hlal was released on conditional bail and will be sentenced on February 4.

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