Almost four years to the day, through sheer persistence and the knowledge that they were right, 10 Bristol City fans have today been vindicated. Virtually on the eve of court action, West Midlands Police have climbed down and offered to settle the matter out of court.
The background to this, because after four years you can be forgiven for forgetting, is that 10 Bristol City supporters who are not considered a risk and have never been involved in any football-related disorder were surrounded and threatened with force, including the use of police dogs, publicly accused of being hooligans by an inspector using a megaphone, detained for over 90 minutes and put back on a train home without being allowed to attend the game they had come to watch. They had all travelled to the game independently, didn’t all know each other and had tickets for the match.
Backed by the Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust, they claimedfalse imprisonment and a breach of Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Stu Rogers, Chair of The Supporters Club & Trust explains: “We always believed that these supporters were unfairly treated. West Midlands Police delayed, hindered and frustrated the process throughout in the hope we would just go away. We didn’t.
“Whilst we will not now have our day in court to seek a ruling, we believe this is a moral victory and sends a clear message to police forces up and down the country: do not misuse these dispersal powers! Fans simply will not stand for it.”
This case was slightly unusual in that a serving Avon & Somerset police officer was prepared to back the 10 Bristol City fans as a witness in court, such was the widely held belief that this was wrong. The 10 are grateful to this officer, Bristol City FC for the publicity and the Supporters Club & Trust for providing financial support.
Fans up and down the country also donated to a fund, which in the event of it not being required for this case would be donated to the Football Supporters Association (FSA) to be held for any future case in which the FSA is assisting fans of any club caught up in a similar situation or that require legal representation. £1,600 will now be handed over. Thanks to all who donated.
Well done to the 10 for sticking to their guns. It was worth it.