Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Journalist in court over England fan in dressing room

A British journalist has appeared in court accused over the incident in which a fan from south-east London walked into the England dressing room, South African police have said.

Simon Wright of the Sunday Mirror is accused of orchestrating the incident following the England v Algeria match at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, and was made to surrender his passport.

Pavlos Joseph, from Crystal Palace, who said he walked into the dressing room while looking for the toilet, has been charged with trespassing.



Brigadier Sally de Beer of the South African Police Service said: "Simon Wright, 44, was arrested yesterday (Monday) morning at 8.25am at Cape Town international airport. He appeared in a World Cup court in Cape Town last night at 11pm. He was granted 3,000 rand bail and will appear again tomorrow morning (Wednesday) on charges of attempting to defeat the ends of justice."



The National Commissioner of Police, General Bheki Cele, said: "The police have reason to believe this incident was orchestrated, and involved the co-operation of a number of individuals. This is revealed by initial investigations and what has been observed from CCTV footage.



"The police strongly believe the motive was to put the World Cup security in a bad light, and possibly to profit from this act."



He continued: "Mr Wright has admitted to harbouring and interviewing Mr Pavlos Joseph at a time when the police were searching for the latter in order to effect an arrest. The second criminal charge against Mr Wright relates to his alleged conduct in booking luxury hotel accommodation for Mr Joseph using false or incorrect particulars."



A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: "Sunday Mirror reporter Simon Wright was arrested and charged in Cape Town last night. He is currently on bail and will appear in court tomorrow, Wednesday. He was engaged in a legitimate story for his newspaper and any suggestion that he or the newspaper was involved with Pavlos Joseph before he entered the England dressing room is entirely false."



Joseph, 32, claims he berated the players for their poor performance. He will appear at the same court as Wright, but for a separate hearing, on Wednesday. At a previous court hearing Joseph was banned from attending any more World Cup matches, his passport was seized and he was released on 500 rand (£44) bail.



He said he was looking for a toilet after the match when a security guard sent him in the direction of the players' tunnel. After taking a wrong turn, he found himself in the changing room where he confronted the players. The incident, which happened minutes after Princes William and Harry left, prompted the Football Association (FA) to make an official complaint to World Cup organiser Fifa.

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