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Black lawyers condemn Clattenburg investigation

INCIDENT: The Met is unable to pursue its investigation into Clattenburg

THE SOCIETY of Black Lawyers (SBL) has “condemned” both the FA and Chelsea FC for not sharing evidence with the Metropolitan Police in the case of allegations made against referee Mark Clattenburg for racially insulting Jon Obi Mikel.

Because no persons have come forward to the Met to complain of being the victim of a criminal offence, the Met has decided to drop its investigation into Clattenburg – the official from County Durham will now face no further police action.

SBL says it will take “this matter up with the Minister of Sport”, in light of its belief that the FA “lacks the political will and competence to investigate and prosecute hate crime generally on the terraces or on the pitch”.

Chelsea lodged an formal complaint against the 37-year-old referee after he had taken charge of the October 28 Premier League match between the London club and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, in which Clattenburg sent off the home side’s Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres. Chelsea lost 2-3, and the team’s management and players were livid at the match official’s performance.

That same evening, after the allegations became public, Peter Herbert, chair of SBL, reported the matter as a “racist incident” to the Met via email. Herbert’s third-party report allowed the Met to pursue a criminal investigation.

The failure of a criminal investigation to run its course has attracted the ire of Herbert. SBL, which does not criticise the Met as it “clearly expected the victims to come forward”, perceives “that the FA is clearly gearing itself up to dismiss the allegations as being incapable of being proved on a balance of probabilities.

“The FA may feel that a referral to the [Met] may upset the plan to protect the “beautiful game” and be another racist own goal for UK football.”

SBL has also made available an excerpt of its email correspondence with Hammersmith and Fulham police, in order “to demonstrate the apparent inability of the football authorities to report such matters as criminal acts to the police.”

The police email, which acknowledged Herbert’s third-party report had been “recorded as racist incidents”, read: “I can confirm enquires were made and no victims have come forward. The matter will remain as a recorded incident.

“Without a victim and/or any evidence that any offence has been committed, the matter cannot currently be investigated. Clearly if the situation changes and a victim and/or evidence to support an allegation of a crime comes to police attention then further enquiries will if appropriate be made.”

CRITIC: Herbert condemns the FA and Chelsea for their inaction

Henceforth, SBL’s chair has reserved scathing criticism for the FA and the Premier League club. “It would appear that there is a cosy little agreement between Chelsea FC and the FA not to report these matters to the [Met] but to have them dealt with solely by the FA”, Herbert said.

“The FA [has] a dreadful record of indifference on hate crime generally; failing to challenge anti-Semitism at Tottenham Hotspur FC and at other grounds.

“The FA appears, as usual, to take the line of least resistance and does not appear to hand the papers over to the [Met] but keeps them in house where presumably they can be dismissed after claiming that there has been a ‘thorough investigation’”, the lawyer added.

Herbert further criticised the FA for having “no Hate Crime Strategy”, not adopting “any proper sanctions that deal with racial abuse as gross misconduct deserving of at least a 6 month ban for players, managers, coaches or referees”, failing to recognise “the McPherson definition of a racial incident (where a racial incident is defined as such if the victim or any other person perceives it as such)”, and not enforcing clubs to “possess any system of monitoring racial incidents within football grounds”.

Additionally, SBL concluded these inadequacies meant “Neither the FA nor clubs are mindful of the duty of care they owe to players and spectators at football grounds around the UK.”

When contacted by The Voice, the FA declined to comment on its investigation into Clattenburg and the criticisms made by SBL.

However, the FA's chairman, David Bernstein, later reacted to Herbert's criticism and said: "These ill-informed and unhelpful remarks are at odds with the progressive and responsible approach being followed by the game with the support of government to deal with these serious issues.

"The FA will continue working to strengthen processes to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football."

Bernstein's defence of the game's ruling body was prompted by Herbert's direct attack on the FA, when on BBC Radio 5 Live he called the governing organisation "institutionally racist."

Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the PFA, defended the FA and Chelsea. "I think it would have been better if it remained within the remit of Chelsea and the FA to put any subsequent case to the Met Police", he said.

"If we reported all incidents from third-party evidence, there would be many investigations the police would have to go through.

"We have to have faith Chelsea have reported the incidents in good faith and that the FA will deal with it accordingly, and report it to the police if necessary", Carlisle added.

Chelsea was unavailable for comment.

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