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Case Dropped Against Spurs Fans For Using Y Word

Mon 10th Mar 2014 | Safety & Security

Three Tottenham Hotspur fans charged with a racially aggravated public order offence for using the words 'Yid Army' at a football match have had the charges discontinued against them.

In a statement issued by the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday, they stated, "In considering whether a criminal offence could be proved we have to look objectively at the words used, and the context in which they were used.

“As part of the review, the context of the use of the words alleged in this case was reconsidered, and we have decided that, although the same words used in other contexts could in theory satisfy the criteria for 'threatening, abusive or insulting', it is unlikely that a court would find that they were in the context of the three particular cases in question.

"We have therefore concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. This decision has no bearing on any other cases that may be brought to our attention and all cases will be considered on their own facts and merits."

Acting on behalf of the defendants, Melanie Cooke, Solicitor at Bailey Nicholson Grayson and Alison Gurden, Barrister at 1 Gray’s Inn Square Barristers Chambers issued a joint statement which read, “We believe that the arrest and charge of these fans was unnecessary and unwarranted. 

“It raised many legal issues, the right to freedom of speech being just one of them.   These charges did not take account of the context in which the wording was used (a factor now acknowledged by the Crown Prosecution Service), and indicate a misguided and over-zealous approach by the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service. 

“The fact that the charges were discontinued prior to the first court appearance is supportive of the fact that these fans did not commit an offence.  It is hoped that in the future both the Police and Crown Prosecution Service will use their discretion and common sense towards Spurs fans, particularly given that being arrested for such an offence can have the effect of stigmatising that person as a ‘racist football hooligan’ as well as impose draconian bail conditions to prevent attendance at football matches and restrict freedom of movement.

“We do not in any way condone racist language being used by football fans and we are aware of the recent media reporting of racist abuse being used towards opposition fans during matches. However this was never one of those cases. The word ‘Yid’ simply means ‘Jew’. It is derived from the Eastern European language Yiddish.”

Following the decision by the CPS, Spurs have confirmed that the three supporters, who were immediately banned from attending football matches have had them rescinded.

“As with all cases where fans are arrested for football-related offences, we were obliged to issue bans and the club can confirm that these supporters' bans have been rescinded with immediate effect and refunds will be made for matches missed on season tickets, as per club policy.”

Spurs have now asked the police for a clarification of the situation going forward and will update fans accordingly.

Image: Action Images / Paul Harding Livepic

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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