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124/03

Football fan banned for racist chanting

18 July 2003

A 21 year old football fan was banned from attending Nationwide or Premiership matches for 3 years this week and has been fined £150 after being convicted of ‘racialist chanting’ by Stoke on Trent Magistrates. The case against Sean Ratcliffe, a Port Vale supporter from Stoke on Trent, was referred back to the District Judge at Stoke on Trent by the High Court with a direction to convict after The Crown Prosecution Service appealed against the original decision to acquit Ratcliffe.

The incident occurred during a football match on 12 October 2002 between Port Vale FC and Oldham Athletic. Sean Ratcliffe was part of a group who were chanting the words “You're just a town full of pakis”. Ratcliffe pleaded not guilty and at his original trial the District Judge ruled that the word paki was no more insulting than the words ‘Brit’ ‘Yank’ or ‘Aussie’.

At the High Court on 16 June Lord Justice Auld ruled in favour of The CPS in a landmark decision and stated that the word ‘Paki’ is derogatory and racist in the context used in this case. He said that the word is often used as a prelude to violence and the purpose of the word in such a context goes beyond affectionate use as a shortened version of nationality. He added that cases should be looked at on a ‘case by case’ basis but had no doubt that Sean Ratcliffe and his fellow supporters in using the word in a chant were using it in a racially aggravated, derogatory sense.

The conviction and sentencing of Ratcliffe, on 17 July, comes in the same week that The CPS published its Policy on Racist and Religious Crime, which gives a commitment to prosecute racist and religious crime fairly, firmly and robustly. At the launch of the policy Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir David Calvert-Smith QC said: “We are determined to prosecute robustly wherever and whenever we can. We have published this policy because we want victims, witnesses and their families as well as the general public to understand the serious nature of this type of crime. By putting this policy into practice we aim to build more effective cases and to bring more offenders to justice.”

  1. The policy statement is available on our website
  2. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office, 020 7710 6091.