Arsenal fans to sue after police bungle Champions League rampage case

SIX Arsenal fans wrongly accused of a post-match rampage through the streets of Holloway after a Champions League semi-final are planning to sue the Metropolitan Police after their trial collapsed.

The lifelong Gunners fans were accused of being part of a 60-strong mob who attacked officers and rival supporters after Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the second leg tie on May 5, 2009.

They always protested their innocence and last week they finally walked free after the prosecution offered no evidence against them when it emerged the police officer in charge of the case did not know about the existence of important CCTV footage.

Judge David Martineau directed the jury to return verdicts of not guilty, and the police have now admitted their failings and started a full investigation into what went wrong.

But they are also facing compensation claims from the six fans, who say they have been to hell and back in the last two years.

Terence Nicholson, 41, an electrician from Great Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, whose 12-year-old son Harry goes to the Times Boxing Club, in Copenhagen Street, Islington, said: “This has slaughtered us. We’ve been branded hooligans in the national papers and been described as rampaging through the streets.

“I understand there was trouble that day and the police have to do something, but first they started smashing everyone in sight with their batons and then they just picked people out at random and arrested us.

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“I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for 35 years and I’ve never been involved in any trouble, but suddenly I was banned from football for two years, forced to miss lots of big games and I wasn’t able to take my son to the games.”

Mr Nicholson was accused of having thrown a pint glass at police, but says that was total nonsense.

“I was standing outside The George pub in Eden Grove when the trouble started,” he said. “The police pushed us back into the pub with their shields and then alleged I threw a pint glass at them.

“They always denied there was helicopter CCTV footage and then suddenly it appeared and showed we’d done nothing wrong.

“Apparently two police officers got injured that day. One got his nose broken and another was kicked by three guys and the police obviously wanted to make an example of us.”

Mr Nicholson denied affray along with Mark Gooder, 44, of Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park; Danny Ely, 26, of Bythorne Court, Rainham, Kent; Anthony Groves, 49, of Wargrove Drive, Sandhurst, Berkshire; Wayne Simpson, 33, of Long Lane, Huddersfield; and Wayne Gilby, 38, of Raleigh Drive, Barnet.

All were cleared on the judge’s direction.

After defence lawyers called for an investigation into the way the trial was conducted by the police and Crown Prosecution Service, Chief Inspector Mark Sheeran, of Islington police, said: “This was a complicated police investigation into serious football disorder.

“We accept that the investigation had a number of failings that led the CPS to discontinue with this prosecution. A full review of this investigation is being conducted by a senior officer and the identified failings will be addressed.”