Ex-UK policeman in Paris racism case tells London court he was aggressed

Chelsea supporter Richard Barklie was travelling to an away match when filmed preventing a black man from mounting a Métro train.

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A former police officer from Northern Ireland involved in an alleged racist incident on the Paris Métro involving Chelsea fans has described in a British court how he was reacting to someone aggressively trying to get into a crowded carriage, reports The Guardian.

Richard Barklie, 50, who could face a football banning order with three other Chelsea fans, is seen in video footage twice pushing Souleymane Sylla – until now known only as Souleymane S – stopping him from getting into a carriage while the train is waiting at Richelieu-Drouot station. The incident occurred on February 17th before the match in which Chelsea drew 1-1 with Paris Saint-Germain.

Sitting in the witness box because of a sore knee and back, Barklie watched the video being played in court, and gave his version of the incident.

“Mr Sylla was the only person using aggression,” Barklie told the court. “He was aggressively forcing himself into this space where there was no room.”

Barklie said that, in accordance with his public order training, he put his hand up to protect himself, going on to describe how Sylla started shouting with “spray coming out of his mouth”.

The Chelsea fan said: “I did push him, I put my hand out to stop him getting into this space.” He added that the train was packed.

Asked by his lawyer, Nick Scott, whether he had an issue with the “colour of his [Sylla’s] skin”, Barklie replied: “None whatsoever.”

Barklie also denied joining in singing or chanting of “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”, which can be heard on the video. On Wednesday, Adam Clemens, seeking the banning order against Barklie and three others, described Barklie as the “prime mover” in the Paris Métro incident.

Barklie, an ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary and Police Service of Northern Ireland officer, is currently a director with a human rights organisation – the World Human Rights Forum – and has also worked supporting victims of the Troubles.

Along with Barklie, Jordan Munday, 20, from Sidcup, south-east London, William Simpson, 26, from Ashford, Surrey, and Joshua Parsons, 20, from Dorking, Surrey, face face a three- to five-year ban from football matches.

The banning orders are aimed at stopping potential troublemakers from travelling to football matches at home and abroad.

At a preliminary hearing in March, the four men and one other said they would contest the ban. Dean Callis, 32, from Islington, north London, accepted the measure last week.

[...] Sylla, a French sales manager, said his life had been shattered by the incident. “It was a shock that I can’t get over,” he said. “You’re on your way home from work and you’re pushed out of the Métro just because you’re black and the people who are doing it to you say: ‘Yes, we’re racist and we like it like that, we’re fine with that.’”

Read more of this report from The Guardian.

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