Richard Barklie, a former RUC police officer who now holds a prominent role in a world-wide human rights organization, has stated that he was not responsible for stopping a black man getting on a Paris subway train as videotaped by a member of the public.
Several times the black man tried to board but was prevented by Chelsea fans in Paris for Chelsea's Champions League match against Paris St. Germain last week. The burly figure of Barklie is apparently visible in the video pushing the man off the train.
The Chelsea followers chanted racist slogans as they repeatedly pushed the man back as he tried to board and Barklie has now been named as one of them. The incident has caused outrage, and Chelsea is promising immediate action banning all those who took part. British and French police have also become involved.
His Northern Irish lawyer, Kevin Winters, issued a lengthy statement defending the ex-RUC man.
“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.
“Today a senior official in the World Human Rights Forum confirmed their support for him.
“Mr Barkley is a Chelsea season ticket holder and has traveled to matches for over 20 years now without incident.
“He traveled alone to the Paris St Germain match and has no knowledge whatsoever of the identities of the other people depicted in recent YouTube video releases.
“He wants to stress that he was not and never has been part of any group or faction of Chelsea supporters.
“He did not participate in racist chanting and singing and condemns any behavior supporting that. He accepts he was involved in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S was unable to enter a part of the train.
“He has an account to give to police which will explain the context and circumstances as they prevailed at that particular time.
“In the meantime pending that, he wants to put on record his sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr Souleymane.
“He readily acknowledges that any judgment on the integrity of his apology will be kept in abeyance pending the outworkings of the investigation.
“Given the extremely sensitive nature of the issues engaged, we urge upon all media outlets to exercise as much restraint as possible when commenting on the case.
“We accept on behalf of our client that public interest demands nothing but total indignation and condemnation from all media reporting but such reporting ought not to persist at the expense of undermining Mr Barkley's right to a fair trial.
“Tonight London Met confirmed with us that arrangements were in hand to take the investigation to the next stage.”