Chelsea fan caught up in 'racist incident' is former policeman and now a human rights group director

Souleymane S was prevented from entering the train by Chelsea fans

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The Independent Online

A director of an international human rights organisation has admitted he was involved in preventing a black French man from entering a Paris underground train amid racist chanting by Chelsea football fans.

Richard Barklie, 50, a director with human rights organisation The World Human Rights Forum, has denied any racist chanting and says that he wants to explain the context of the incident to the police.

However he accepted he was “involved in an incident when a person, now known as Soulemayne S, was unable to enter a part of the train”.

The Chelsea season ticket holder, from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, is one of the three men whose images were released by Scotland Yard as part of an investigation into a group of supporters who were filmed preventing the commuter from the entering the train and singing racist songs.

Mr Barklie is on the board of directors of the World Human Rights Forum, along with people from countries including Nigeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, India, Canada and Germany. The forum’s website says it is dedicated to promoting “human rights, values and global well-being”.

In a statement, Mr Barklie's lawyers said he wanted to put on record his “sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered” by Souleymane S.

It added: “We contacted London Metropolitan police today to advise that our client is happy to assist with inquiries.

“Pending formal engagement with police, our client is anxious to put on record his total abhorrence for racism and any activity associated with it.

“As someone how has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and Indian, he can point to a CV in human rights which undermines any suggestion that he is racist.

“Mr Barklie is a Chelsea season ticket holder and has travelled to matches for over 20 years now without incident. He travelled alone to the Paris Saint-Germain match and has no knowledge whatsoever 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 behaviour supporting that. He accepts he was involved in an incident when a person, now known as Soulemayne S was unable to enter a part of the train.

“He readily acknowledges that any judgement on the integrity of his apology will be kept in abeyance pending the outworkings of the investigation.

Chelsea fans throw Souleymane S from the train

His lawyers said that the Metropolitan Police had confirmed that “arrangements were in hand to take the investigation to the next stage”.

None of the men sought by Scotland Yard has been arrested, as the force is unable to detain people over alleged offences outside the UK. If brought to trial in France and found guilty, the suspects could face a three-year prison sentence and a €45,000 (33,300) fine.

Earlier on Sunday, a counselling centre for victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles confirmed it had suspended Barklie, a part-time staff member, in connection with the incident.

Chelsea Fans.jpeg
The three men identified by British police in connection with the incident.

During his RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) career, Barklie served in west Belfast, where he was involved in saving Special Branch informer Sandy Lynch who was being held captive by the IRA.

In his role as a director for the World Human Rights Forum, Barklie took part in a conference in India two years ago where he quoted Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King as part of an ongoing battle against racial intolerance.

A Met police spokesman said the three men had now been identified and the force was liaising with the French authorities. None of the men sought by Scotland Yard have been arrested as any offences took place outside the UK.

Five people have so far been suspended from Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.