CAS Trust has today written to Charlton CEO Katrien Meire to express our concern about the incident involving a fan and unmarked stewards in the car park after the game against Coventry on Saturday.
A number of CAS Trust members have been in touch with us to express their concern about the incident in the car park after the game on Saturday when a young man was dragged across the car park by three men who were not wearing SIA ID. The incident was seen by a large number of people and there is plenty of photo and video evidence.
Trust member Murray Anderson has already written to you with a clear eye witness account and asking pertinent questions about the club's security procedures. He has given me permission to reproduce his letter here:
Following the game between Charlton and Coventry City (15/10/2016), at approximately 5pm, I witnessed an unsavoury incident outside next to turnstile 13 of the west stand.
I saw two security men push a young man into the corner, between the exit gate and the turnstile wall while two other security men protected the area.
They were manhandling the teenager, at one point grabbing him around the throat. A crowd was drawn to the incident as was a police officer. None of the four security men displayed any form of identification or provided any explanation for their actions, when questioned. The police officer called for back up.
I demanded to know from the police officer why he was allowing four unidentifiable men the opportunity to apprehend the young man without any visible form of authorisation or identification.
He continued to call for police back up and then went over to the men to ascertain if the security men had any right apprehending the young man.
Police and stewards arrived and a crowd gathered.
I continued to question police about the grounds on which these security guards were holding the young lad and asked the two protecting who they were and on what authority they were detaining him. No answer was given.
Eventually the boy was released. Apparently he had been guilty of little more than holding/waving a flag
As the security men backed into the ground through the exit tunnel, protected by lines of police and stewards, they goaded the supporters gathered, resulting in fans pushing forward, incensed by their actions.
The situation died down eventually and police on horses arrived as the crowd broke up.
As I walked away, a police officer I had talked to during the incident, approached me to say that the incident had been recorded on CCTV and that the club had told him that club officials would look at the footage and take any necessary action.
I thanked him for the information and shook his hand.
I can confirm that although the young man had been boisterous with his protests during the game, (waving a North Korean flag and leading protest chants near the directors' box) he at no point over stepped any sort of mark, in terms of his behaviour.
He was grabbed and man-handled outside the ground for little more than carrying a flag. The actions of these, apparently, club employees was, in my view, wholly disproportionate and incendiary.
At no point did any of these four men identify themselves, (no ID was visible) or provide any sort of explanation for their actions. I can also confirm that the four men who apprehended him, I recognised.
I can verify that I have seen these four gentlemen escorting Katrien Meire into the club on matchdays, were part of the stewarding outside the West Stand prior to kick off and were sitting in the directors' box at various points during the game.
I would like to raise a number of questions resulting from this incident:
1. Why has the football club employed these men?
Under what contract?
What exactly is their job description/role at the club?
2. Will the club review any video footage taken of this incident and take any disciplinary action against any club employees found to be bringing the football club into disrepute?
3. Will the club issue any sort of statement clarifying how it employs security for matchdays and whether the club condones or condemns the actions of these security men?
CAS Trust thoroughly endorses Mr Anderson's letter and the questions he asks. We further note that a club statement has since been released saying that "The individual involved was stopped due to his anti social behaviour before, during and after the game following complaints from supporters".
We would like to add our own question.
Why was it deemed appropriate to apprehend him as he was leaving the ground and on whose authority were these particular individuals deputed to apprehend him?
I look forward to your reply.
Chair - CAS Trust