Red Issue and the GMP: Making up the law as they go along

Author: Red Issue

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The following is the editorial from Red Issue #259 – the Manchester United fanzine. The fanzine goes on sale tonight before United host Athletic Bilbao.

satire n – 1. literary work in which topical issues, folly, or evil are held up to scorn by means of ridicule

Hopefully the above definition will prove useful to some at GMP, and in particular our old acquaintance Mark Roberts. As a City fan in charge of policing games at Old Trafford – “a proper bitter Bertie” according to one source who knew him at school – you’d think he’d have a sense of humour. Alas. His order last month for officers to confiscate RI wasn’t the first time this season he’s resorted to hopelessly disproportionate measures to clamp down on United supporters. After City were drawn against Napoli in Europe he took to the media in September to warn “Anyone found to be trying to incite tensions and disorder will be severely dealt with”, in response to ‘threats’ posted on Italian websites such as “City are going to make spaghetti out of your limbs and give your meatballs a good tenderising” and “Your knives are no match for our bananas”.

With United fans apparently behind this provocation of the notorious Neapolitan blade merchants, Roberts and co set to work. A demand from GMP came in to RI’s website demanding the identities of numerous posters responsible for such heinous crimes which, when cooperation was not forthcoming, was soon followed up with an official request from SOCA. Despite what you might think, SOCA is not some specialist football-related crimes division at Scotland Yard but is actually the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Yes, clearly not already burdened enough with the demands of keeping gang warfare in check on the streets of Britain, they really had been called in to get to the bottom of who told Luigi online that “Stockport branch is going to burn your city to the ground. If you see a banana; turn around, run and don’t look back”.

When SOCA’s further request was met with (wholly legal) non-compliance, PC Plod promised that a court order would be attained by the following Monday to compel the website to hand over the desired information or risk being in contempt of court. We can only assume there’s a bit of backlog down the sorting office because it seems to have gone the same unfortunate way as Sam Allardyce’s BBC-bound libel writ. Oh well. Meanwhile, despite all that virtual ‘incitement’ no Manchester City fans were injured on their visit to Italy, whereas six unfortunate Bayern Munich supporters came a-cropper and ended up with stab wounds when their team played there the previous month. Strange, that.

So there we have two utterly stupid recent investigations initiated by someone with Roberts’ seniority in GMP, yet at his appearance at the Football Supporters Federation’s ‘Watching Football Is Not A Crime’ event at Wastelands last week, he still seemed to suggest he is one who believes in the system. Roberts’ replies to complaint after complaint of mistreatment from Greater Manchester-based football supporters at the hands of GMP officers amounted to little more than “register your dissatisfaction and it will be addressed”. Ha, fat chance!

Last month’s RI that was seized on Roberts’ orders coincidentally contained details of GMP football intelligence [sic] officers directly under his command on European away trips bullying innocent United supporters and stealing their tickets. At Eastlands Roberts was challenged as to what powers his officers held when on foreign soil and he conceded that they had no more than any other British citizen. Why then are they going round acting as MUFC’s private security force and actively seeking out minor breaches of ticket allocation regulations that are of no consequence to local police and breach no laws in places like Germany and Spain? RI has been passed two separate police intelligence reports containing entries made by Roberts’ officers relating to their theft of United fans’ tickets; Roberts had earlier told the FSF meeting of those reports that “I see the files, I know what goes into them.” Taking him at his word, Roberts is the senior officer so why is he allowing these illegal acts of intimidation – little different in execution to TV-gangster style ‘shakedowns’ – to be undertaken by GMP officers being paid by Manchester taxpayers to uphold the law?

Oh yes, Roberts’ claim that formal complaints will drag his colleagues into line is a good one. There’s one GMP intelligence [sic] officer based under Roberts at Stretford police station who’s been acting outside his remit for years. Numerous complaints have been made against him in that time – yet another is trundling through the system at the moment – but he continues to act with impunity. Roberts confirmed last week that it is in breach of GMP’s code of conduct for them to publicise requests for people’s identities who they already knew, as they cajoled the MEN into doing after the City League Cup semi-final in 2010. Despite knowing exactly who one Red was, GMP demanded information on him in the MEN and then turned up mob-handed on his doorstep one morning with a Sky News camera in tow (that cosy police-NewsCorp relationship in evidence again). Ultimately he was not charged with any offence but the publicity cost him his livelihood. His real ‘offence’? Growing tired of said FIO and telling him where to go at a previous game.

Similarly, the most recent United fan to receive a GMP banning order application ‘on complaint’ (i.e. without having committed any offence) did likewise with the same FIO not so long ago and had GMP confiscate his passport before the trip to Amsterdam, as he was hauled into court to answer to a file of ‘evidence’ that is a mass of circumstantial waffle and includes the utterly ludicrous statement from one officer that says (and this is verbatim): “[XXXX] is not captured on this footage, however may have been there at the scene.” No need to mess about with that ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ nonsense; banning orders on complaint are a civil action, requiring a burden of proof only on the balance of probabilities.

And that same FIO was also the officer referred to in RI 218 when we told the tale of a Red assaulted by him in Lyon after being stitched up on a racist charge a few weeks earlier (video evidence subsequently secured a not-guilty verdict on the racist charge). As was reported back then, he “walked straight into me. ‘Get out of my way you racist piece of shit’ came his ever convivial salutation”, as the FIO butted the United fan and, after the intervention of two French police, proceeded to bounce up and down offering him “round the corner!”. Is this really acceptable behaviour from a member of GMP? Yet an official complaint about it made no difference whatsoever.

What of Roberts’ himself? He attempted to excuse the RI seizure by apportioning blame to the club. “The original complaint regarding that fanzine came from Manchester United” he told the FSF meeting, in stark contrast to an emailed assurance we’d had two weeks earlier from United Communications Dept: “I spoke to Mark Roberts (via email) … his reply was that it was spotted by his uniformed officers … He was categoric it had not originated from either club.” Yet Roberts still insisted, “They [MUFC] brought it to our attention and said they would prevent people from entering [with it].” We put this claim to United last week and they reiterated, “Categorically, it was not the club”. If so, then it means a public servant has lied whilst on official duty. Surely not!

At a time when police budget cuts are still to really bite, the Old Trafford gravy train rumbles on. ‘Watching football is not a crime’ shouts the FSF, but with all that recession-busting, morale-boosting overtime to be earned from the easy task of policing PL football, don’t expect Roberts et al to be listening.

Red Issue #259 is available from the usual places around the ground, priced at £2.50. To have it delivered to your door, subscribe now for 10 issues or the new issue alone.

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16 Comments on Red Issue and the GMP: Making up the law as they go along

  1. Disappointing performance yet again in Europe last night. And at home at OT as well! I genuinlly believe that if SAF had played his syrongest side of raf, rio, evans, paddy, nani, scholes carrick, young, rooney, welbz it would have been a completely different story in my opinion! Its a real pity that we have a game on Sunday to look out for and thus changes were bound to be made last night. Even though we made changes to our team, u’d expect any man united side to come away from last night with at least a goalk and a clean sheat. It wasn’t to be and we were a mess all over the pitch last night! Defense was a shambles! So too was our midfield! Jones has been soo bloody poor the last few weeks its quite scary! Nobody knows where his be position is and that alone is a joke! 1 week he’s at),the next at cb and then he’ll play in midfield! Yes its all good having a player that can play in many positions but it disrupts the whole rythem of the team.I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of Jones ever since and before he signed for us! I didn’t quite see the point in us signing him when he has 4 defenders already in rio, nemanja, smalling and evans. + there’s the 2 da silvas as well who r trying to establish themselves in the team. I feel Jones has onlu upset the works at the back this season! We have too many defenders and they all need game time so therefore we can’t settle on a solid back 4 partnership. Its an absolute joke to be honest! The back 4 can never settle and it seems like each week we r playing with a new combination. Its actually a disgrace! I feel that smalling and jones have a lot to learn . In my opinion they not yet United class. Imagine if Vidic wasn’t injured! I’m sure they must have both been delighted when he got crocked. Just meant more game time for them. So what’s gonna happen next season when vida comes back?? G-d only knows. Yes they’re good squad players but let’s get real here…both of them r not YET good enough to start every week. This continuess chopping and changing of the side has just not been a good thing for our team and we can’t get into a rythem…even in midfield. Too many players fighting for positions. Yes it can be a good thing but as u can see its def not been good for United. So that’s why I still don’t understand the logic in buying Jones who was 19 at the time. Rfael is a great player and a real right back! If I was Fergie I’d let him make that pos his own! He was terrific last night and only made 1 mistake which turned out to be quite crucial in the end!

    At the end of the day, jones and smalling r United players and will prob be for quite a while. So hopefully my opinion of them will change and I hope it changes fast! Come on lads! Get a fukin grip man! You’re at the best team in world football! Now start playing and performing like a real Man United player knows how.

    Ok enough bout those 2. DDG has been absolutely superb these last few weeks! He’s gonna turn into a world class keeper and he’s def my #1 choice over Lindegaard! He’s a proper keeper and can do it all! Really warming to DDG! GWAN LAD!!!

    Felt sorry for Park. He doesn’t get regular minutes so u can’t expect the lad to have a cracking game! Doesn’t help his cause playing him on the left either. He’s been a great servant to MUFC over the years though. He was poor though to be fair.

    Hernandez will come good I have no doubt bout that! He showed good signs last night and with regualar minutes, he will only get better!! I fear for Berba! What is going on there??? Last night was the perfect game for him to come back into the mix! Who knows maybe he was sick although he did train the day b4 but something is really fishy there.

    Anyways we have title 20 to win so come on the lads! Let’s get it together and give Brom a drubbing of note!!! With a proper 11 on the field on Sunday I see no reason at all why we can’t get the 3 points! I’d go with DDG, raf, evans, rio, paddy, nani, scholes, carrick, young, rooney, Hernandez!!!! Come on the lads!!! MUFC

  2. I’m a Liverpool fan (yes, I know, I know) who followed a link from the Guardian to this.
    It’s a superb article and utterly terrifying in a democracy. What can happen with impunity in Manchester will undoubtedly be noticed by bullying plods across the country. Is your local media not interested? Local MP’s? Anyone in the Establishment bothered?
    PS/ lots of people called Stringer seem to be high up in Manchester politics and Civil Administration. For an admittedly great city (rivalry cannot remove facts), there’s a lot of disease in your polity.

  3. I too am not a United fan (Bury in case you were wondering) and followed this link from the Guardian (It’s on their football live blog today). Great article. Some of the police who are regularly on duty for Bury games are usually quite friendly, particularly away from home because it’s usually the same faces. But some of the gorillas brought in to police some of the more high profile games (Rochdale & Oldham for example) are beyond belief, they think that because you’re at a football match and because you’ve had a couple of beers you’re a menace to society. Have things really moved on that much from the bad old days ?

  4. This article REALLY needs to be circulated to the larger press.
    Congratulations for a very brave stance, i for one will be subscribing forthwith.
    Keep going and please keep us all informed.

  5. This is quite a brilliant article … the one thing that the self-serving idiots at the top of various dibble forces really do not like is publicity about their activities

    & I’m a Spurs fan …

  6. Every1 has been going on about us not being able to settle on a solid back 4 that can play week in and out. People have been unhappy at the amount of times the team has been changed and its true. We almost have a different back 4 every week! Its not good for the team and the lads can’t get into a rythem! And I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. We have too many defenders! And imagine if Vidic wasn’t injured! There would be even more chopping and changing weekly! The 2 lads smalling and jones r eng internationals(only caus of United imo) and want to start every game! Its all very well having a lot of defenders and players in the squad and I think competition for places is very healthy for the club BUT how do u keep all these players happy and content with the amount of gametime they r getting. Jones has come in and I genuinely believe he has disturbed our setup. I believe that it was greedy of us to go and buy him from balckburn when we already had 2 players in Smalling and Evans who were in line to challenge Rio and Nemanja. + we have the 2 Da Silvas who have been at the club for a while now and have waited a long time to stake their claim. It hasn’t benefitted us 1 bit in my opinion! Yes he had a good first few games when he first arrived but he has been so bloody poor for the past few months. He’s just an average player in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it when I heard we had signed him and the first thing I thought to myself was – how will this lad get in the team when we already have rio, nemanja etc and I believe that when vidic comes back next season its gonna be even more of a mess. Its showed in europe especially. Everytime it came to the Cl, SAF had no other choice than to change the back 4 because players were not getting gametime etc. Way too much chopping and changing! I honestly don’t think this would have happened without jones last season and it never! We had a solid back 4 and 3 of the positions were standard. It was rio and nemanja and paddy and then either smalling or the twins at rb. When rio or nemanja were injured evans stepped in and did a decent job together with smalling! And things were ok! Simples. There were hardly any problems and the lads got on with it week by week. I don’t think we got to another CL final by changing our team everytime in came to Europe and we def never won a record 19th title by doing the same thing. U can shoot me down all u like but I don’t give a fuck! I def feel I have a really valid point here! There was absolutey no reason whatsoever for Fergie to go out and buy another defender! I couldn’t actually believe it when I heard he had signed for us! I was completely shocked! How do u keep 8 defenders happy??? Its impossible! The changing of the team to keep players happy has had a negative impact and our results this season speak for themselves. Barcelona play the same back 4 almost every week and look where they are. Same can be said of madrid. Pepe, ramos and marcelo play all thetime and look at where they r in the league! Its simple!

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