Northern Ireland

Chelsea fan's parents back son Richard Barklie over Paris incident

Man sought by police Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Richard Barklie said he had travelled to Chelsea matches for more than 20 years "without incident"

The parents of an ex-police officer and Chelsea fan involved in an alleged racist incident on the Paris Metro say they are "shocked and worried" for him.

Richard Barklie, 50, of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was identified as one of the people sought by the Met Police.

He denied racist chanting, apologised and said he wanted to explain the context of what happened to police.

"Richard is definitely not a racist," his mother said.

Chelsea Football Club has barred five fans after a video showed a black man being prevented from boarding a train.

Mr Barklie, an ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary and Police Service of Northern Ireland officer, is currently a director with a human rights organisation - the World Human Rights Forum - and has also worked supporting victims of the Troubles.

His mother said: "Richard has been a Chelsea fan since he was a little boy and a season ticket holder for a number of years. He's travelled all over the world without any trouble at all."

His father has watched the video, but his mother refuses to watch it.

"I didn't know my son was in it until I saw the video. I was shocked and worried for him," Mr Barklie said.

Both Richard Barklie's parents said he is not racist and has worked in the field of human rights for a number of years.

His parents said they had tried to text him but had not received a reply.

Meanwhile, the Wave Trauma Centre based in Belfast said it had suspended a part-time worker pending further investigation following an allegation of involvement in a racist incident in Paris last week.

The centre said it would not be making any further comment as a Metropolitan Police investigation had begun.

Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters issued a statement on behalf of the Chelsea season ticket-holder.

Image copyright The guardian
Image caption A member of the public filmed the incident on the day of Chelsea's match in Paris

In it, he said Mr Barklie:

  • had been involved in an "incident" in which a man - identified as Souleymane S - was "unable to enter part of the train"
  • had not taken part in racist singing and "condemns any behaviour supporting that"
  • had contacted the Met Police to "explain the context and circumstances" and wanted to "put on record his total abhorrence for racism"
  • wanted to state his "sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr Souleymane"
  • went to the match alone and did not know anyone shown in the video
  • had travelled to games for more than 20 years "without incident" and had never been part of any "group or faction" of Chelsea fans

The statement added: "As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India, he can point to a CV in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist."

It said the Met Police had confirmed "arrangements were in hand to take the investigation to the next stage".

Earlier, the Met said three men being sought in connection with the incident had been identified - and released images including one of Mr Barklie.

Image copyright Met police
Image caption CCTV images were released by the Met Police of three men on the Paris Metro

Amateur video shot at Paris's Richelieu-Drouot station showed a man being pushed from the Metro train while a group chanted: "We're racist, we're racist and that's the way we like it."

Chelsea has said it will ban the five suspended fans from attending Stamford Bridge for life if there is sufficient evidence of their involvement.

A spokesman said the club was writing to the victim to "apologise unreservedly", while manager Jose Mourinho has said he is "ashamed" by the alleged racism.

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