Police rap absent Cantona

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The Independent Online
Eric Cantona was yesterday accused of "a blatant disregard" for "an important inquiry" when he failed to appear in London for a police interview over his two-footed attack on a Crystal Palace fan.

However, the Manchester United striker's solicitor, Maurice Watkins, claimed that police had been aware that Cantona was in Antigua and no appointment had been arranged.

Cantona's team-mate, Paul Ince, was questioned but not charged over an alleged assault on another fan at the same Premiership match at Crystal Palace on 25 January, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

Police said they had expressed annoyance to Cantona's lawyers about "a blatant disregard for an important police inquiry". The spokesman said police had no powers to order Cantona to return to Britain but stressed that he would be interviewed "as soon ashe does".

Watkins said it was "just not true" that Cantona had failed to turn up at South Norwood police station. "No appointment had been made for him to appear because he is on holiday and the police were fully aware of this," he said.

Police said that Ince was arrested when he arrived for his interview "in connection with allegations of assault". He was interviewed and then bailed to return at a later date.

Cantona has already been suspended for the rest of the season and fined two weeks' wages by United. He has also been charged by the Football Association with bringing the game into disrepute.

The club have taken no action against Ince, who has been cleared to play for England in next week's friendly against Ireland.