Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea fans in Paris metro 'racism' row 'treated as scapegoats'

Four Chelsea fans accused of being involved in a race row in which a black man was shoved off a train while racist chants were sung are being treated as "scapegoats" by police, a court today heard.

Video shows the man, named only as Mr Souleymane in court, pushed off the Metro train as Chelsea supporters sang "we're racist, we're racist and that's the way we like it".

Footage of the altercation, which came after the London club played Paris St Germain in February, sparked outrage and British police issued pictures of those suspected of being involved.

Richard Barklie, 50, Jordan Munday, 20, Josh Parsons, 20, and William Simpson, 26, all deny wrongdoing and are fighting police attempts to issue them with football banning orders.

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 Stratford Magistrates' 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 is that Mr Munday is effectively being used as a scapegoat. In most situations an application wouldn't be made at this stage."

Footage shows around 150 Chelsea fans walking through Paris chanting, setting a red flare alight and clambering onto cars. Some had been drinking and taking drugs in the pub before trouble erupted, the court heard. Although there is no suggestion any of the four men in court had been.

Many then put their hoods up to obscure their identity as they file into the underground.

Video played in court shows Mr Souleymane is pushed off the busy train by Barklie, a former policeman in Northern Ireland who is now a director with the World Human Rights Forum.

But Barklie, a season ticketholder, from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, 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.

Pc Paul Todd, from the Met's Central Football Unit, was in Paris filming Chelsea supporters on the day of the incident.

He said he heard Chelsea fans chant "John Terry is a racist and that's the way we like it" on the Metro train. On the evening in question he saw Munday, of Ellenborough Road, Sidcup, south-east London, "front up" a member of the public as he was walking through Paris with other Chelsea fans.

Pc Todd told the court: "Mr Munday approached him and it seems to me that he pushed him. He then goes another five steps, goes to the same man, pushes him again and then is told to go back to the crowd."

Munday's lawyer suggested it was the member of the public who shoved her client, but the officer said that wasn't his interpretation. Pc Todd said some football fans can display a "pack mentality" when they are with 100 fellow supporters and do things they normally wouldn't.

Pc Adam Stephens said abuse like that displayed by some Chelsea fans in Paris fuels the belief "that all football supporters are thugs".

He said the pack of around 100 to 150 Chelsea fans winding through the French capital was a "large intimidating group" and felt to be a risk by police.

Parsons, of Woodhouse Place, Dorking, Surrey, was on the Metro train and allegedly joined in with the racist chants by singing "we like it".

He also chanted "Where were you in World War Two" and swore when Mr Souleymane was pushed off the train, the court heard.

But his defence lawyer Saba Naqshbandi said he did not sing the racist chants. And she said his presence in the large group of Chelsea fans walking through Paris does not mean he was violent and disorderly, telling the court "you can't tar everyone with the same brush".

The court also heard that Simpson, of Hengrove Crescent, Ashford, Surrey, has had to face court previously for alleged race-related crimes.

He was charged with a racially aggravated public disorder offence but the case against him was dropped at court.

And he was arrested, but not charged, after allegedly calling a taxi driver "a f****** Paki" and telling him to "go back to his own country".

And in October 2012 he was banned from the roads for two years for drink driving.


From Belfast Telegraph