Fan has dressing room 'invasion' charges dropped

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The Independent Football

Charges against the England fan who breached stadium security by walking into the team's dressing room after the World Cup match against Algeria were dropped today.



Cape Town Magistrates' Court heard that Pavlos Joseph, 32, from Crystal Palace, south-east London, paid a 750 rand (£65) admission of guilt fine yesterday.



The case against Sunday Mirror journalist Simon Wright, accused of defeating the ends of justice and flouting the Immigration Act, was adjourned to July 7.



Prosecutors said this was a "more serious" matter, but Wright's defence lawyer will argue the charges against him have no basis and should also be withdrawn.



Joseph's defence lawyer, Craig Webster, told the special World Cup court that an agreement had been reached with prosecutors that the charge against his client should be withdrawn.



Mr Webster said: "The Director of Public Prosecution has decided to withdraw the charges on the basis that an admission of guilt fine is paid. A 750 rand fine was paid by the accused yesterday."



Joseph, who was accused of trespassing after he breached the Fifa World Cup Special Measure Act by walking into an area without being in possession of the necessary accreditation, did not attend court.



He was interviewed by Wright after the incident at the Green Point Stadium on June 18.



The mortgage advisor said he was looking for the toilet after the match when a security guard sent him in the direction of the players' tunnel.



He claimed he took a wrong turn and found himself in the changing room, where he berated the players for their poor performance.



He said he told David Beckham: "David, we've spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?"



Joseph was arrested on June 20, the day the interview was published. Pending the outcome of the case he was banned from attending any more World Cup matches, his passport was seized and he was released on bail.



Wright, 44, was arrested on Monday night at Cape Town international airport. He appeared in court two and a half hours later charged with defeating the ends of justice and breaching the immigration act by providing false information about a place of accommodation.



Wright, 44, a senior reporter, appeared at the World Cup court today after the case against Joseph was withdrawn.



William Booth, defending, told the court: "My client is from the UK and would like the matter completed as soon as possible. My client feels that there is no basis to the charges."



He said he had not yet received a formal charge sheet laying out the details of the prosecution case.



Mr Booth addressed comments made by the National Commissioner of Police, General Bheki Cele, yesterday, in which he appeared to suggest the dressing room incident was "orchestrated" by the journalist.



He said his client felt "rather aggrieved" at the comments, which should not have been made.



Wearing a jacket, open-collar shirt and jeans, Wright listened intently to proceedings.



Magistrate Grant Engel adjourned the case to July 7 and Wright, whose passport has been seized, was released on bail.



As he left the court he was surrounded by photographers and camera crews but made no comment.



Outside court, Mr Booth was asked about General Cele's remarks.



He said: "We would like to know the basis for those comments and what evidence there is to substantiate those kinds of comments.



"We feel the matter is sub judice and the comments should not have been made."



He said the two men had not been in contact before the incident and Wright was merely doing his job.



He said that at the stage of the newspaper interview there was no warrant out for Joseph's arrest, adding: "There was no intention at all to harbour a fugitive from justice."



Speaking at a briefing to journalists in Pretoria yesterday, General Cele said police had reason to believe the incident was "orchestrated".



He said: "The police strongly believe the motive was to put the World Cup security in a bad light, and possibly to profit from this act."



National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the charges against Wright were more serious than those against Joseph.



He said: "We view defeating the ends of justice in a very serious light - more serious than in the case of Joseph."



The incident, which happened minutes after Princes William and Harry left the dressing room, prompted the Football Association to make an official complaint to World Cup organiser Fifa.

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