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Tuesday, June 16, 1998 Published at 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK

UK Politics

Straw slams 'treacherous' hooligans

Jack Straw condemns "shameful behaviour"

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has led the House of Commons in criticising what he called the "treacherous behaviour" of football hooligans in Marseille.

[ image: Jack Straw apologised for Brits behaviour]
Jack Straw apologised for Brits behaviour
During Home Office questions, he said he "condemned unreservedly" the actions of hooligans "who so besmirch the name of English football and undermine our nation's reputation".

"The whole country feels betrayed by the treacherous behaviour of this criminal element who so besmirch the name of English football and undermine or nation's reputation," the home secretary said.

Mr Straw revealed that he had spoken to the French Interior Minister on Monday morning. He said he had apologised for the behaviour of British people and had underlined the government's support for the actions of French police.

Compensation for the French

In reply to a question about compensation from Shadow Home Secretary Norman Fowler, he said:

"Compensation for innocent victims is primarily an issue for the country where the offence occurred, but I am urging a further discussion with the French Interior Ministry."

The rest of the House of Commons was equally vehement in its condemnation of the violence.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Alan Beith joined the criticism, referring to what he called the "travelling circus of drunken hooligans".

But there were questions asked about the way the run up to the England v Tunisia match had been handled.

[ image: Skinner: trouble a
Skinner: trouble a "racing certainty"
Tim Boswell (Con, Daventry) said the House should be concerned at the "failure of the application of intelligence" and asked Mr Straw to "examine the failure to transfer information into action".

In reply, Mr Straw supported the actions of French police, with the aid of the English forces, and said that despite the efforts of the police, the country "had been let down" by those who went to Marseille.

Asking for trouble?

Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover) asked if the staging of such a match in Marseille itself was not a mistake.

"Would my Right Honourable friend agree that it was near enough a racing certainty that there would be trouble as soon the match was designated for Marseille? It was an open invitation for the English National Front to fight the French National Front," he said.

But this did not wash with Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien: "There are no excuses at all," he said.

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