Monday 23 October 2017

Ex-RUC officer apologises over Chelsea racism row

Captured on CCTV: Richard Barklie (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Captured on CCTV: Richard Barklie (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
A still from the video showing Chelsea fans stopping a black man getting on a train in Paris.
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A former RUC officer has apologised for his involvement in a race row involving Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro.

However, Richard Barklie, who was wanted by investigating police, has vehemently insisted he is not a racist.

The Chelsea season ticket holder is one of the three men whose images were released by Scotland Yard as part of an investigation into supporters who allegedly pushed a black man off a train.

Video footage allegedly shows supporters pushing the individual off an underground train while chanting a racist song in the French capital on Tuesday.

A cohort of the group allegedly chanted: “We’re racist, and that’s the way we like it”.

The 50-year-old, a former RUC officer originally from Carrickfergus, said he wanted to tell his side of the story to police.

He is a director of a worldwide human rights organisation which promotes racial tolerance around the globe.

Mr Barklie has referenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King in previous speeches.

He is also an outreach worker for Wave, a cross-community charity which offers support to people bereaved, injured or traumatised by the Troubles.

In a statement, the charity confirmed it had suspended an individual pending an investigation.

A statement from the charity  said: “The Wave Trauma Centre has suspended a part-time worker pending further investigation following an allegation of involvement in a racist incident in Paris last week.

“As this matter is subject to an investigation by the Metropolitan Police it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

In a statement issued through his lawyer, Mr Barklie admitted involvement in an “incident” that resulted in a man being “unable to enter part of the train”.

“He wants to put on record his sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by (the victim)”.

He denied singing any racist songs, and insisted that “context and circumstances” must be taken into account.

He said this would form part of his explanation to investigating officers.

He explained how he travelled to the game alone, and that he did not know any of the other individuals captured on video footage of the alleged incident. He also said he has never been part of any “group or faction” of Chelsea fans.

Mr Barklie is a director of the World Human Rights Forum (WHRF), a global network of campaigners which promotes human rights.

In March 2013, during an address to the World Human Rights Conference in India, he appealed for racial tolerance.

“We must all keep working with a sense of compassion for each other in our hearts, with a sense of justice and equality we should banish from our hearts and minds prejudices of creed, colour, religion and gender.

“When we do this we will conceive a more harmonious and peaceful society,” he added.

The alleged racial incident at the Richelieu-Drouot station occurred before the first leg of Chelsea’s last-16 game at Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

Footage has emerged which purports to show a black man, since identified as 33-year-old Souleymane Sylla, being pushed from a train. Mr Sylla later said he has been left “afraid”.

“It has really affected my life. I can’t go back into the Metro, it makes me really afraid,” he said.

“I don’t think you should be denied the right to take the Metro because you’re black.”

Chelsea have suspended five supporters from attending matches.

Mr Barklie is not among the five.

Irish Independent

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