United Fanzine Cleared Over Racism Claims

25 February 2012, 09:47

No-one will be prosecuted over copies of Manchester United's fanzine that wereseized before their match with Liverpool amid fears it would "stir up racial hatred."

The edition of Red Issue included a spoof poster of a Ku Klux Klan hood along with the words "LFC'' and "Suarez is Innocent'', it was reported.

Its publication followed an ongoing race row involving Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was given an eight-match ban for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.

The tensions were mirrored on the pitch when Suarez refused to shake hands with the United captain before the kick-off.

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, said: "I have decided that no further action will be taken in relation to allegations surrounding the publication and distribution of the Red Issue fanzine at Old Trafford football ground on February 11 2012.

"During the investigation into the matter by Greater Manchester Police, the issue of potential incitement to racial hatred was raised.

"As a result, I consulted the CPS's Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, who are responsible for advising on suspected cases of incitement.

"Following this consultation, I have received advice from a senior lawyer in that division that, although the fanzine distributed may have been offensive to some people, there was insufficient evidence to prove that the content was intended to stir up racial hatred, or that it was or likely to do so.

"I have therefore concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for incitement to racial hatred against any person.''

He added: "It is not a crime to possess material that is threatening, abusive or insulting, or hold views which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious.

"It is a crime to distribute this sort of material to the public, if it is intended to stir up racial hatred, or in circumstances where it is likely to have that effect.''

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