Sunday, December 18, 2005

One for the Legal Eagles...

I'm not clear why this has come up in the Yorshire Evening Post today.

A SENIOR judge has caused a huge storm by ruling that 21 Leeds soccer fans jailed and handed football banning orders are FREE to go to the World Cup in Germany next year. The decision, by the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, has prompted police to express "disappointment" that the soccer hooligans were not handed international bans on top of the eight-year ban from domestic games.

By all accounts the police were widely quoted as being extremely pleased with the Judge's tough sentencing at the time. According to the Guardian back in August, Detective Superintendent Phil Sedgwick said the police were pleased with the custodial sentences and removal of the hooligans from Leeds United matches. He said: "It is exactly the message we want to send to people who commit violence at football matches, or indeed anywhere: they will be chased, caught and be imprisoned."

Yet now Chief Supt Geoff Dodd, divisional commander of City and Holbeck police division, which covers the Elland Road ground, is telling the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We are greatly disappointed that the full powers of the court were not brought to bear in these cases. It is highly likely that the unwanted hooligan element who are prepared to cause trouble at home will be just as inclined to be involved in disorder abroad".

We're told that at the time of sentencing Judge Jones made clear that he would not extend the ban to cover overseas games because there was no "international dimension" to any of the offences.

While the Government's Football Banning Orders Authority (FBOA) has told those convicted of causing trouble at the match that they CANNOT go to the World Cup in Germany next June, a court source is reported as confirming, "In this situation, any of the defendants could go to court and ask for a judicial review, in the divisional court, to argue that the FBOA is acting outside its powers."

So why is this news today? Does this mean that the Police have only just spotted that they might just look like mugs for being so pleased back in August? Or has someone lodged a legal challenge?

Category: Football_


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