Four Chelsea fans accused of being involved in a racist incident on the Paris Metro that resulted in a black passenger being shoved off a train are being treated as “scapegoats” by the police, a court heard yesterday.
Video shows the victim, named only as Mr Souleymane in court, pushed off the Metro train as Chelsea supporters sing “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 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 hooliganism.
She told Stratford Magistrates’ Court in London: “The reason you have brought this action against Mr Munday is purely because 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.”
Footage shows around 150 Chelsea fans walking through Paris chanting, setting a red flare alight and clambering on to cars. Some had been drinking and taking drugs in a pub before trouble erupted, although there is no suggestion any of the four men in court had been.
Video played in court shows Mr Souleymane being pushed off the busy, stationary 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. He’s just pushed off – no violence or aggression.”
PC Adam Stephens 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 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. She said: “You can’t tar everyone with the same brush.”
The court also heard that Simpson, of 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. 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”.