Antrim Chelsea fan admits pushing black man off train; denies racism

Richard Barklie

A court has heard that a former RUC man has admitted pushing a black man off a Paris Metro train, but said the man started the altercation.

Richard Barklie, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, is one of four Chelsea fans facing a football banning order over a confrontation filmed ahead of a Champions League game in February.

Footage of the alleged incident showed several fans chanting “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

Fifty-year-old Mr Barklie denies any wrongdoing and told Stratford Magistrates Court he pushed Souleymane Sylla, because there was no room in the train carriage. He also claimed Mr Sylla was the only one using aggression.

Mr Barklie served as an officer with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and as a director with the World Human Rights Forum.

Mr Sylla told the court that he was “violently” pushed off the train as a Chelsea fan pointed to his skin colour.

Souleymane Sylla was repeatedly shoved off the carriage amid chants of “John Terry is a racist and that’s the way we like it, ooh, ooh, ooh”.

The four football fans admit being in the carriage. Three of them say they pushed Mr Sylla off – but insist it was because it was too full, not because he was black.

In a short extract from Mr Sylla’s statement read out at Stratford Magistrates’ Court in London, he said: “When I approached them to enter the coach, one of them pushed me away violently to put me back on to the platform.

“I again approached the carriage, explaining to this person I wanted to get back on the train.

“He didn’t seem to understand what I said to him and other supporters behind him were shouting and singing in English. As I don’t speak English, I didn’t understand what they said. Another person made a sign indicating to the colour of the skin on his face.”

Richard Barklie, 50, Jordan Munday, 20, Josh Parsons, 20, and William Simpson, 26, all deny any racism and are fighting an application by the Metropolitan Police to issue them with football banning orders.

Defence lawyers for all four men said they were not chanting or being racist, and the Parisian was pushed off the train simply because it was full.

Barklie said: “Mr Sylla, and it’s my view, was the only one using aggression. From what I’ve seen and what I’ve viewed he was aggressively forcing himself into a space where there was none.”

Speaking about video footage played in court, which shows him forcing Mr Sylla off the train, he said he put his hands up to protect himself.

He said: “I think he had tried to get on first and then he tried to get on again, but by that stage he was shouting.

“It’s not clear here but I’ve seen other footage and it’s more clear he was shouting and there was spray coming from his mouth.

“I did push him – I put my hands up to stop him getting into the space where I was standing. From my perception there were others behind me trying to get towards Mr Sylla and I felt myself getting pushed forward by the momentum.”

Asked by his defence barrister, Nick Scott, if “there was any issue in relation to the colour of his skin”, Barklie said: “None whatsoever.”

He added: “I think he was remonstrating that there was room in the carriage. But it was packed and there was no room for him.”

Earlier, the court heard Munday say that there was enough space for him to force his way through the carriage and see the aftermath.

He said he was interested in seeing what the “commotion” was about, but he did not join in the race chants or see the altercation.

Adam Clemens, representing the Metropolitan Police, said: “At the end of the ’ooh, ooh, ooh’ your mouth was moving and it closes at the end.”

Munday, of Sidcup, south-east London, replied: “There was movement – I was breathing. I have to breathe.”

Pressed on whether he thought the chant was racist, Munday said: “It could be considered that, yes.”

Trouble flared up as Chelsea fans were on their way to see the London club play against Paris St Germain on February 17.

Violence had erupted the previous year when the two clubs clashed.

Video footage shows a group of around 150 Chelsea fans walk through Paris on their way to the match as flares were set off and some clambered on a car.

They then file into the Metro station, where the alleged race altercation happened.

The case was adjourned until 9.30pm next Wednesday when District Judge Gareth Branston will give his ruling at the same court.

A fifth man, Dean Callis, 32, of Liverpool Road in Islington, north London, earlier received a five-year banning order for his role in Paris and other incidents involving violence.

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