Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have apologised to a group of Stoke City fans who were forced to leave Manchester after police served them with Section 27 orders prior to their team’s away fixture with Manchester United on Saturday, November 15, 2008.
The incident, along with a similar occurrence involving Plymouth Argyle supporters, has caused great concern within the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) and led to the launch of Watching football is not a crime!
Around 80 Stoke City supporters were detained at the Railway Inn pub in Irlam, Greater Manchester. There had been no violent disorder and the landlord was entirely happy with their behaviour – even offering to put food on for them if they ever return!
Unfortunately GMP did not share the same outlook and rounded up Stoke supporters – including a businessman who had to meet clients at Old Trafford – before escorting them back to Stoke-on-Trent.
GMP assistant chief constable Justine Curran said that the force had apologised to six people individually – we also expect compensation for those involved and police to wipe clean any records of the event. Curran also revealed that GMP would launch a review on their use of Section 27, although she defended their use of the legislation on the majority of fans in the pub.
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said: “We're very pleased that the police have admitted they wrongfully served Section 27 orders on a number of Stoke fans and hope they receive an apology, compensation, and all records on file deleted. But this isn't the end of the road, we've heard too many cases where this legislation has been used to unfairly target football supporters.
“Alongside Liberty we still intend to take this issue to judicial review as there is absolutely no guarantee that Section 27 will not be unlawfully used again.”
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