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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Fan convicted over racist chant
A football fan who took part in racist chanting at a match has been convicted in a landmark court case.

Two High Court judges ruled the 21-year-old fan should have been convicted of a criminal offence when he came before magistrates.

In what is understood to be the first case of its kind to reach the High Court, the judges ruled Sean Ratcliffe, from Cross Heath, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, was guilty of chanting in "a racialist nature".

The chanting came under the 1991 Football (Offences) Act, they said.

Ratcliffe was in a crowd of fans of second division Port Vale who used a chant containing the word "Paki" at Oldham Athletic supporters during a league match at the Port Vale ground at Stoke-on-Trent in October last year.

Lord Justice Auld, sitting with Mr Justice Goldring, said it was clear the word "Paki" - short for Pakistani - was "a slang expression which is racially offensive".

'Unpleasant context'

They dismissed any suggestion it could be used affectionately in the manner of "Aussie" or "Brit".

The judge said: "It is odd and a shame that this is so in this country, but the unpleasant context in which it is so often used has left it with a derogatory or insulting, racialist connotation."

The ruling overturned a decision by Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates' Court district judge Graham Richards in January to acquit Ratcliffe on the basis the chant was "mere doggerel" and need not be classed as an offence.

The judges also took the unusual step of telling the magistrates' court to pay the estimated 1,000 costs of the appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

After the hearing, Maureen Shea, head of trials for the Crown Prosecution Service in north Staffordshire, said: "It is clarification of the fact that 'Paki' is derogatory and racialist within the terms of this Act.

"If any football crowd is chanting, and the word Paki, or Pakis, is in the chant, it is going to contravene the act."

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