There was no room on train: NI race-row Chelsea fan

Richard Barklie said the incident has 'had a profound effect on my life'
Richard Barklie said the incident has 'had a profound effect on my life'

A Northern Ireland Chelsea fan and human rights activist has admitted pushing a black man off a Paris Metro train – and blamed the Parisian for “shouting” and starting the altercation.

Richard Barklie, 50, shoved the man twice amid chants of “John Terry is a racist and that’s the way we like it, ooh ooh ooh”.

But he insisted he had no “racist motive” and that Souleymane Sylla was the only one “using aggression”.

Barklie, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, served as an officer with the RUC and is a director with the World Human Rights Forum.

He is among four Chelsea fans appearing at court fighting attempts to issue them with football banning orders which could bar them from matches for 10 years.

He told Stratford Magistrates’ Court the train was “packed” and he only pushed Mr Sylla off because there was no room.

He said: “Mr Sylla, and it’s my view, was the only one using aggression.

“From what I’ve seen and what I’ve viewed he was aggressively forcing himself into a space where there was none.”

Talking through video footage played in court which shows him force Mr Sylla off the train, he said he put his hands up to protect himself.

He said: “I think he had tried to get on first and then he tried to get on again, but by that stage he was shouting.

“It’s not clear here but I’ve seen other footage and it’s more clear he was shouting and there was spray coming from his mouth.

“I did push him, I put my hands up to stop him getting into the space where I was standing. From my perception there were others behind me trying to get towards Mr Sylla and I felt myself getting pushed forward by the momentum.”

Asked by his defence barrister Nick Scott if “there was any issue in relation to the colour of his skin”, Barklie said: “None whatsoever.”

He added: “I think he was remonstrating that there was room in the carriage. But it was packed and there was no room for him.”

Barklie said he feared there could be “repercussions” if the Parisian managed to get on board the carriage because of the large number of Chelsea fans aboard.

Under cross-examination, Metropolitan Police lawyer Adam Clemens accused Barklie of joining in the “oooh, oooh, oooh” chorus of the racist chant.

The lawyer said video footage played in court showed him moving his lips.

He said: “I’m going to suggest we can see you joining in. You were singing the ‘oooh, oooh, oooh’, weren’t you?”

Barklie replied: “Absolutely not.”

Asked if he was “shocked” when the racist chants became louder after Mr Sylla was pushed off, Barklie said no, adding: “It didn’t shock me, I didn’t say it was all right. I don’t condone any racist singing.”

Barklie said the Paris incident has “had a profound effect on my life”.

Jordan Munday, 20, Josh Parsons, 20, and William Simpson, 26, also deny wrongdoing and are fighting the application for football banning orders.

Trouble flared up as Chelsea fans were on their way to see the London club play against Paris St Germain on February 17.

Violence had erupted the previous year when the two clubs clashed.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday when District Judge Gareth Branston will give his ruling at the same court.