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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Football scarf taunt costs 400 fine
Newcastle v Sunderland
Tempers are often frayed during derby matches
Newcastle United fan Yvonne Mann has been fined 400 for displaying a scarf, poking fun at a rival team, in her Tyneside pub.

The court also ordered her scarf - which had an insulting comment about Sunderland Football Club on it - had to be destroyed.

Fans from both North East football giants described the court's actions as "barmy."

Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins said he found it "hard to believe" the case ever got to court.


Can we not have a joke at the expense of someone else?

John Wesencraft, defending

Mother-of-three Yvonne, 42, turned her Newcastle pub, the Adelphi, into a shrine for the Magpies with signed shirts, photographs and memorabilia on the walls.

In the middle of it was the scarf, which police said was insulting and likely to cause offence.

The case has raised the issue of whether it is now against the law to poke fun at fans of rival teams.

Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard police had gone to the pub on a routine licensing check on 4 March.

An officer noticed the scarf, which a member of staff removed when asked.

Mrs Mann was summoned to the police station the following day to be interviewed.

Derby match

She was later charged with "displaying any writing, sign or visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress" under section 5.1 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Mrs Mann denied the offence and said the scarf had been left in error after a derby match between Newcastle and Sunderland.

John Wesencraft, defending, asked the court: "Can we not have a joke at the expense of someone else?

"Is this not political correctness gone mad?

"Can we not poke a little fun at the supporters of opposing football teams?

"It is a bit of fun, nothing more.

"If you take the side of the prosecution you are going down the road of preventing anyone poking fun at the opposition.

"There are fundamental issues at stake. We reach the stage where we can't have a bit of fun with the opposition."

'Health rivalry'

Prosecuting, Simon Worthy, said: "The case is not particularly about the more emotive issues of Sunderland versus Newcastle, it is about acceptable standards of behaviour.

"There have been cases in the last year to 18 months where very serious violence broke out between Sunderland and Newcastle fans, specifically an incident between rival fans at the North Shields ferry landing.

"There are those in society who can make light of this and talk about healthy rivalry between two teams only nine miles down the road from each other.

"But there are those who take it far too far."

Chairman of the bench, Derek Smith, told Mrs Mann: "You showed totally unacceptable and unreasonable conduct in allowing the scarf to be displayed in the first place."

Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins said: "In some respects I find it very strange that this case ever got to court in the first place.

'Completely barmy'

"Those of us who know about the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle United are very familiar with this kind of language."

Peter Daykin, editor of the Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, said: "This is completely barmy.

"Does this mean it is now illegal to make fun of fans from opposing teams? Because if it does the courts are going to be very full."

After the case Mrs Mann said: "I am disappointed. I don't think I will be appealing, I just want it all to be finished.

Mrs Mann was also ordered to pay 180 court costs.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

12 Aug 02 | England
18 Jun 02 | England
13 May 02 | Wales
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