Blunkett vows to 'nail' fan freed after leading riot

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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary David Blunkett vowed to "nail" Gary Mann, the England fan who was freed on his return to Britain despite being convicted in Portugal of leading a riot.

Speaking as thousands of England fans poured into Lisbon for tonight's crucial match against Croatia, Mr Blunkett said he was "working very hard" to ensure that Mann ended up serving his two-year sentence for leading a riot in Albufeira last Monday night.

British authorities were dismayed at an apparent legal blunder in Mann's case and are discussing the possibility with Portuguese officials of issuing an arrest warrant against the 46-year-old fireman from Faversham, Kent.

Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday: "I am working very hard on this because I haven't given up on the idea that we are going to be able to nail this individual."

The British authorities are concerned that Mann's release could signal to potential troublemakers that they will be treated leniently. Eight more England fans were deported from Portugal yesterday bringing the total to 43, with 10 more awaiting a court ruling.

Police said even more England supporters were expected to watch the match at the Estadio da Luz than the 40,000 that watched the match there against France last Sunday.

Police sources acknowledged the violent reputation of a small minority of Croatian fans ­ mainly war veterans ­ but played down the threat due to their small numbers.

David Swift, the senior British policeman advising the Portuguese authorities, said an extra six British police officers had been flown in at the weekend to deal with the bureaucracy surrounding deportation of Britons and to help ensure that there was no recurrence of the debacle surrounding Mann.