PROSECUTION DROPPED AGAINST 3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FANS CHARGED WITH RACIST PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCE FOR USING ‘Y’ WORD.
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 was and is still used as a term of endearment by many Jewish people. Its use in a derogatory way was started by racists
in Nazi Germany. This deplorable action should not have the power to forever change its meaning into an abusive term. The word ‘Yid’ was adopted over 30 years ago by Spurs fans to combat racist abuse aimed towards them at football by opposing fans. It developed into a strong identity status that brought Jewish and non-Jewish Spurs fans together in an incredible show of unity that is
admired worldwide. That is what fighting racism within football should be about.
Any organisation or individual that sets out to brand Spurs fans’ use of the word ‘Yid’ as being racist runs a high risk of being perceived as pursuing other self-serving agendas. We urge them to focus their attention on those who are clearly using threatening and abusive words or behaviour towards others based on hostility or hate towards others’ race or religion.
We wish to thank the countless people who have shown their support for the Spurs fans in this case. In particular, Darren Alexander and Katrina Law of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust who gave hours of their time to assist the defence. Darren Alexander was the Joint Chairman of the Trust, and it was with exceptional sadness that we heard the tragic news that he unexpectedly passed
away on the same day the charges were dropped. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. His tireless effort and passion for the good of Spurs fans will not be forgotten.
Melanie Cooke, Solicitor
Alison Gurden, Barrister
Tom Wainwright, Barrister
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Melanie Cooke is a solicitor at Bailey Nicholson Grayson
Alison Gurden is a Barrister at 1 Gray’s Inn Square Barristers Chambers
Tom Wainwright is a Barrister at Garden Court Chambers