Author Topic: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage  (Read 1204 times)

Offline love4ffc

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Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« on: January 13, 2020, 07:21:11 PM »
This is a long read but two Charlton fans were wrongly ejected at Craven Cottage and awarded £500 compensation and given a full apology after receiving shabby treatment and poor investigation by Fulham FC. 

Does anyone remember this event? 


Link to write up:
https://www.theifo.co.uk/adjudications/ifo_1930.pdf

IFO COMPLAINT REF: 19/30
EJECTION AT FULHAM

The Role of the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO)

1. The office of the IFO has been established by the three English football
authorities (The Football Association [FA], The Premier League and The English
Football League [EFL]) with the agreement of Government. The IFO has been
designated as the final stage for the adjudication of complaints which have not
been resolved within football’s complaints procedure. The IFO is an Approved
Alternative Dispute Resolution Body and its findings are non-binding. IFO
Adjudications will normally comprise two parts: an impartial assessment of the
substantive complaint and a review of the procedure by which the complaint was
handled. The IFO’s role is to investigate the complaint and judge whether it was
dealt with properly and whether the outcomes were reasonable for all parties
concerned. Under the procedure agreed by the Football Governing Bodies, the
adjudication of the IFO is final and there is no right of appeal against IFO
findings.

2. In investigating this complaint the IFO confirms that he has received full
cooperation from Fulham FC.
The complaint

3. A Charlton supporter complained that his son had been unjustly ejected at
the Club’s away match at Fulham. He further complained about the way in which
the Club had handled his complaint and his subsequent enquiries.
The facts of the case

4. On 6 October 2019 the complainant emailed Fulham complaining about the
treatment he and his 16 years’ old son had received at the previous day’s
match. He said that when Charlton had scored someone near them had let off a
red flare/smoke bomb. At half time several stewards had demanded that his son
follow them and he was accused of letting off the flare. As the complainant knew
that his son had not been involved, he asked to see CCTV evidence, but that was
refused. The complainant said that a steward had asked the Safety Officer to
reconsider and to check the CCTV, as he and his son were being polite and
reasonable; the answer was that although the evidence was inconclusive, the
son would be ejected as the Club had a zero tolerance policy. The complainant
had been told that his son had looked down at his feet in a suspicious manner.
After instructing police to search the son, and finding nothing, the son was
ejected and the complainant went with him. According to the Safety Officer both
father and son were removed in what is recorded as a double ejection. The
complainant said that he and his son had visited many grounds and had never
been in trouble. He asked the Club either to provide evidence of the son’s
involvement, which he knew it could not, or to offer reasonable compensation
for the cost of their tickets and incidental expenses.

5. The complainant received an immediate acknowledgement from the Club. On
10 October the complainant sent a subject access request to the Club asking for
the CCTV footage and steward’s report of the incident. On the following day the
Club said that it was investigating the issues he had raised and would be in
touch. On 29 October the complainant emailed the Club complaining of delay. On
7 November the Club told the complainant that it was sending him a USB
containing the CCTV footage and relevant correspondence. This included the
ejecting steward’s report which showed that the son was wearing a maroon top
and scarf. The complainant replied saying that the “Excerpt of Arrest/Ejection
record spreadsheet” clearly stated that there was no evidence to arrest. He said
that he had not been given the CCTV evidence; all he had received was a still
photograph from which it was impossible to identify the subjects, let alone what
they were doing. The Club dispute this and claim that the video evidence was on
the memory stick and suggested that his computer might have lacked the
relevant software to open the attachment. On 15 November the Club emailed
the complainant apologising for the delay in responding to his initial query. It
said that, as a club, it has a duty of care for everyone inside the stadium and
while a police search had been inconclusive, the Club had reason to believe that
his son may have been involved in the incident; as a result the Club had had
grounds for ejection in accordance with the Ground Regulations, which it quoted.
The Club was satisfied that the stewards had followed the correct process and
had had just cause for the ejection. The complainant remained dissatisfied and
on 19 November asked the IFO to investigate his complaint.
Investigation

6. The IFO carefully considered the submission by the complainant and a report
from Fulham. The Club said that although the Safety Officer had found that he
could not be 100% certain from CCTV who had detonated the red smoke bomb,
he was satisfied that on the balance of probability the son and/or his father had
been involved. The Club had reason to suspect that they were the source of the
incident and that their ejection was justified. The Club explained that there had
been a misunderstanding over what correspondence the Club’s Legal Team was
issuing in response to the subject access request had led to a delay in dealing
with the complaint.

7. On 12 December the IFO and Deputy visited Fulham’s Training Centre at
Motspur Park. They met with the Safety Officer, Legal Counsel, Communications
Director, the Supporter Liaison Officer and the Administrative Assistant. The
Safety Officer explained that Fulham had few pyrotechnic incidents, but there
had been four flares ignited at the Charlton game. (The first when the teams had
entered the ground, the second when Charlton had scored just before half time,
and the other two when Charlton had scored again.) The Club provided full CCTV
evidence which purported to identify the complainant and his son when the
second flare was set off. At the time of viewing the CCTV record the IFO drew
attention to an apparent contradiction; the complainant told the IFO that they
had been singled out because his son was wearing a red jacket, whereas the
visual record shown to the IFO showed the “father” (the elder of the two males)
wearing a red shirt and the “son” wearing a grey sweater. The footage showed
the “father” moving his right hand down his side towards his pocket and the red
smoke then appearing in front of them immediately after Charlton had scored,
just before half time. Within minutes of the incident the Safety Officer had
reviewed the CCTV record alongside the Match Commander and the Local
Authority Inspector. They agreed that it was highly probable that the two
supporters identified in the CCTV record had been involved and should be
removed. The actual ejection was carried out in a professional manner and
there was no altercation. The Safety Officer conceded that the evidence was
insufficient to justify a police arrest and the complainant had been told this; the
Club had acted on the balance of probability. However, the Safety Officer was
responsible for the overall safety of all in the stadium and he had made the
safety assessment to eject the supporters whom he had reason to believe had
been involved. The Legal Counsel confirmed that the Subject Access Request
had been dealt with within the required time period. For data protection reasons
the Club had been unable to release the full footage of the incident which the
IFO was able to see, so the complainant had received only keyhole footage of
himself and his son. The Club admitted that the final response on 15 November
had been delayed until the access request had been completed.
Findings

8. In the aftermath of the Club visit the IFO accepted that, while the ejection
was not based on wholly conclusive visual evidence, the Safety Officer and his
colleagues had acted in good faith in ejecting those believed on the balance of
probability to have let off the flare. Even at that stage the IFO raised the
possibility that the complainant and his son may have been victims of a
miscarriage of justice, but at the time the IFO did not have the evidence to
conclude that this was the case. The IFO accepted that the Safety Officer, in
consultation with the Match Commander and the Local Authority Inspector,
made his assessment in good faith based on the evidence as he adjudged it at
the time. Having viewed the CCTV footage, the IFO can well understand why,
for the safety of all in the stadium, the Safety Officer decided to eject and the
IFO found that his actions were not unreasonable in the light of what the CCTV
evidence appeared to show. The draft report concluded that this was a case
which had to be deemed “not proven”.

9. As is normal IFO practice the draft report was shared with both parties for
comment. The response of the complainant dramatically changed the IFO view
of the complaint. He submitted photographs of himself and his son (wearing a
maroon jacket, as recorded in the steward’s report) at the Fulham match. The
complainant had also employed a company using specialist software to enhance
the keyhole photograph the Club had sent him. It was immediately apparent
that the complainant and his son were not the people identified by the Club in
the meeting with the IFO as the probable perpetrators. The IFO had drawn
attention to the discrepancy in the apparel worn by the son (above para 7), but
the Club officials assured the IFO that the two identified in the CCTV record were
indeed the supporters nearest to the red smoke and who, therefore, were
justifiably ejected. However, the photographic evidence submitted by the
complainant demonstrated clearly that the two people in the CCTV record were
in fact not the ones who were ejected. It follows that the complainant and
his son were the victims of mistaken identity and subject to a
miscarriage of justice.

10. There are many worrying features of the case. In the long meeting with the
Club the IFO took it on trust that the Club would have satisfied itself that the
people on the visual record were not only the perpetrators, but also the actual
people ejected. The whole meeting was based on whether the evidence was
sufficient to justify ejection and at no point was any doubt expressed that the
people identified were actually the complainant and his son. The IFO finds that
it was a major shortcoming in the Club’s handling of the complaint that neither
at the time nor subsequently did any Club official compare the visual record with
the steward’s report, which clearly stated that the son was “wearing a maroon
jacket”. Neither of those identified in the CCTV record was so clothed. [In
complying with the Subject Access Request the Legal Department also failed to
identify the correct individuals, though that is a matter for the Information
Commissioner and not the IFO]. Moreover, the Club prided itself on the detailed
visual record which identified the seats the perpetrators were sitting in, yet the
complainant and his son were in different seats on a different row. It follows
that what the Safety Officer termed a “model ejection” turned out to have
ejected the wrong people. The IFO recommends that the ejection
procedures are reviewed to ensure that where the ejection is based on
CCTV evidence, those ejected are indeed the ones who had been so
identified. Having been alerted to the injustice it was disappointing that the
Club did not take immediate action to rectify the situation.

11. The IFO upholds the complaint and finds that the complainant and his son
were wrongfully ejected. The IFO makes a three-fold recommendation:

1. The Club should issue an unreserved apology to the complainant
and his son

2. The Club should refund the cost of the two tickets for the match

3. In recognition of the distress caused to the complainant and his
son, the damage to their reputations and the delay in dealing with
the complaint, the Club should make a goodwill compensation
payment of £500.


The recommendations should be implemented without delay.
Conclusion

12. Taking on trust that the correct visual information had been supplied, the
IFO initially found that the Club had acted reasonably in ejecting those deemed
responsible for the flare, even though, as admitted, the evidence was not
sufficiently conclusive to justify a police prosecution. However, the evidence
subsequently submitted by the complainant proved conclusively that an
egregious error had been committed by the Club in ejecting the wrong people.
The complainant and his son were subject to unwarranted and prolonged
distress which entitles them to significant recompense.

Professor Derek Fraser, Ombudsman 10 January 2020

Alan Watson CBE, Deputy Ombudsman

Offline Fulham Tup North

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 08:02:42 PM »
You would think that with so many CCTV's everywhere these days, you would be able to identify the correct people.
If they made the law that anyone setting off a flare got 5 years in jail, no-one would risk it....
To be fair, supporting Charlton they have suffered quite a bit already!

Offline love4ffc

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 08:51:08 PM »
Agree about the CCTV coverage.  I know if I was an away fan and got ejected for something I did not do, I would be livid and would have done the same as these two fans. 


Offline SP

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 08:58:10 PM »
I think there was a post about this a while back.  Glad they got it sorted.

Offline filham

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2020, 09:33:30 PM »
Difficult for the stewards but rotten for the evicted people. It seems the real guilty people got away with it.

Offline H4usuallysitting

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2020, 09:48:39 PM »
They sound guilty to me..... couldn't the people at VAR look into it - they never get anything wrong


Offline toshes mate

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 08:26:34 AM »
This is a very sad state of affairs.  As a Poirot, Maigret, Holmes, Morse, or Marple might say, 'the real killers are still out there'. 

Injustice is a horrible stigma for anyone who remains alive (some didn't) after suffering it, compensation or no compensation.   My concern about this is the informality of the process of this civil system when more formal process might force more rapid change for the improvement of all.  Surely this process should be a legally binding system with proper tariffs, so that the leveraging of crowd control quality is not left to chance but is forced into improvements by being open to the kinds of processes that make mistakes very embarrassing and costly for those who commit them.   £500 seems to me to be a remarkably insufficient compensation payment in the circumstances given that it isn't even required to be paid.

Thanks to love4ffc for posting it.   

Offline bobbo

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2020, 09:46:33 AM »
I'm very pleased to hear they pursued it till they got justice (to a degree).

I have a similar story ( if anyone wants to hear it ) from our 1/4 final match at Carlisle in 1975.
I was wrongfully arrested.

Offline Chesh

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2020, 10:22:59 AM »
I have a similar story ( if anyone wants to hear it ) from our 1/4 final match at Carlisle in 1975.
I was wrongfully arrested.
Yeah, I'm interested - what happened?


Offline bobbo

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2020, 11:07:14 AM »
Well done chesh I only needed one ask :-
It was after the match at Carlisle 1/4 final 1975.
After the match I aged 29 with 6 buddies all similar age were in the shepherded ffc fans by the police back to the station. Within. Spitting distance of the station our grou along with a few others broke away and three of the lads went into a mini supermarket type shop to get a few beers and nibbles for the long journey home.
I along with the others was outside the shop talkingan leaning on a railing when suddenly from nowhere came a small group of young (18 ish) group of locals couple of which were wearing crash helmets , they charged at the three or four of us knocking my mate to the floor I was helping him to his feet when I was kicked on the back of the leg by one the these oiks I turned quickly tripped him as he attempted to run away.
I bent down to grab him , next thing I know a copper grabs me by the collar saying your nicked.
I along with one other was taken in a black Mariah to the police station and charged with behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace, photograph holding a number etc.l was summoned to appear in court and asked what I I would plea . My response was a definite not guilty.
Of course I then ad to make the long journey by car this time back to the court in Carlisle , along with my buddy who'd been initially attacked as my witness. I had no idea how I was going to beat the police on what I saw as their own territory, but I became a little fortunate in my boss was a JP at Windsor court.
He gave me some very good advice, which I also got from a solicitor who I had recently put central heating in his house. I had no kind of money those days to hire legal help.
I went to court and conducted my own defence on the advice I had .I explained to the three magistrates I was ( as a qualified referee and father of two young children ) as peace keeper an no hooligan.
They went out for15 minutes and returned with not guilty verdict,swiftly the clerk of the court congratulated me and advised I should be claiming full compensation iefuel for the journey loss of wages for the day.
As we left court the said copperwho arrested me was walking out with one of his colleagues who took time to say "you wanna watch yerself lad he pointing at the copper was a wrestler at powder hall" to which I didn't respond. I remember it all asif it were yesterday - a rare victory for the innocent.

Hope I didn't bore you to death chesh.

Offline Chesh

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2020, 01:49:03 PM »
Well done chesh I only needed one ask :-
It was after the match at Carlisle 1/4 final 1975.
After the match I aged 29 with 6 buddies all similar age were in the shepherded ffc fans by the police back to the station. Within. Spitting distance of the station our grou along with a few others broke away and three of the lads went into a mini supermarket type shop to get a few beers and nibbles for the long journey home.
I along with the others was outside the shop talkingan leaning on a railing when suddenly from nowhere came a small group of young (18 ish) group of locals couple of which were wearing crash helmets , they charged at the three or four of us knocking my mate to the floor I was helping him to his feet when I was kicked on the back of the leg by one the these oiks I turned quickly tripped him as he attempted to run away.
I bent down to grab him , next thing I know a copper grabs me by the collar saying your nicked.
I along with one other was taken in a black Mariah to the police station and charged with behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace, photograph holding a number etc.l was summoned to appear in court and asked what I I would plea . My response was a definite not guilty.
Of course I then ad to make the long journey by car this time back to the court in Carlisle , along with my buddy who'd been initially attacked as my witness. I had no idea how I was going to beat the police on what I saw as their own territory, but I became a little fortunate in my boss was a JP at Windsor court.
He gave me some very good advice, which I also got from a solicitor who I had recently put central heating in his house. I had no kind of money those days to hire legal help.
I went to court and conducted my own defence on the advice I had .I explained to the three magistrates I was ( as a qualified referee and father of two young children ) as peace keeper an no hooligan.
They went out for15 minutes and returned with not guilty verdict,swiftly the clerk of the court congratulated me and advised I should be claiming full compensation iefuel for the journey loss of wages for the day.
As we left court the said copperwho arrested me was walking out with one of his colleagues who took time to say "you wanna watch yerself lad he pointing at the copper was a wrestler at powder hall" to which I didn't respond. I remember it all asif it were yesterday - a rare victory for the innocent.

Hope I didn't bore you to death chesh.
No, I'm always interested on hearing stories from away trips previous to when I started going away in the early 80s.

Funny enough, at Carlisle in April '97 we were warned about diverting to the offy on the way back to the station by the police as there were reports of people 'getting stabbed' - don't know how true this was as we took their word for it, but I know there were various scuffles on the way back regardless.

Offline Logicalman

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2020, 11:26:59 AM »
They sound guilty to me..... couldn't the people at VAR look into it - they never get anything wrong

Agreed, with their red and blue cross-hairs, they would have identified the perps, had them arrested, convicted and Hung, Drawn & Quartered before the match ended, they are just that good!  :005:


Offline Logicalman

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Re: Two Charlton Fans wrongly ejected from Craven Cottage
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2020, 11:35:24 AM »
Difficult for the stewards but rotten for the evicted people. It seems the real guilty people got away with it.

I don't see the Stewards were at fault at all, but I do find it incomprehensible how the IFO failed in their basic investigative requirements to actually confirm that the stewards' statement and the CCTV images were of the same people. Notwithstanding the descriptions alone, if the club knew the location of the suspects on the CCTV, and the location of the fans that were ejected, and they didn't match, then that should have been the end of, immediately (unless there was a claim they moved - which was not stated). The whole set of facts (if correct as reported above) points to a micky mouse investigative IFO team, given the possible seriousness of the outcome to the fans.