Socialist Worker

Police commander's ignorance 'beggars belief' Rotherham 12 trial told

by Phil Turner
Issue No. 2528

Sheffield Crown Court, where the trial is taking place

Sheffield Crown Court, where the trial is taking place (Pic: Bencherlite)


A police commander in charge on the day Nazis attacked Asian counter demonstrators in Rotherham has been likened to a character from TV comedy Fawlty Towers.

Sheffield Crown Court burst into laughter as defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC mocked Chief Inspector Richard Butterworth for adopting hotel waiter Manuel's catchphrase “I know nothing.”

“You may think it was astonishing what he did not know,” Mansfield told the jury in the Rotherham 12 trial.

The 12 men were charged with violent disorder after a peaceful counter protest against the Nazi group Britain First in September last year.

The court has heard that a group of drunken fascists stood outside the William Fry pub being racially abusive and threatening violence before attacking a group of Asian men.

Butterworth claimed he had never heard of the Rotherham United football hooligans known as Section 5 who were linked to the fascist group Yorkshire's Finest.

Mansfield said the violent attack was “utterly foreseeable and utterly preventable.” Butterworth's ignorance “beggar's belief.”

Civilian and police witnesses knew the pub was a hotspot in an area in which Asian families were vulnerable, but not Butterworth, he said.

Mansfield declared, “Everybody knew it, save for one person, save for, apparently, the silver commander.

“I don't know what planet he's been on, but clearly he's not been on this one.”

Toxic

Mansfield said there was a “toxic mix” of Yorkshire's Finest, Section 5 and the William Fry which was a “pub for thugs.”

He said there was “highly provocative racist abuse of the most primitive kind.”

The group targeted a group of 10 and 11 year old Asian children in a “pugilistic, aggressive, on-the-street, in-your-face” and “fuck off” kind. Chants included “Pakis go home” and worse.

More than 800 police and the “full panoply” of resources including a helicopter were available to police. But not at the pub.

Known right-wing hooligans belonging to Yorkshire's Finest, a group linked to the English Defence League, were allowed to meet there even after officers spotted them earlier, the court was told.

Mansfield said “incomplete, flawed policing” led to the violence started by the group at the pub.

He described the “invasion and occupation” of the town by far right groups.

There had been 14 marches in 14 months following the child sex abuse scandal for which the whole of the Muslim community were blamed, he said.

“The Rotherham community had been subjected to an invasion, an occupation by a political force, which you may think is anathema in our society.

“They may have the right to speech but not to lie in wait and subject them to racist abuse. That's what's been happening.”

The Britain First demonstration was “gloating” about the brutal racist murder of Mushin Ahmed, an 81-year-old grandfather, who was called a “groomer”.

Mr Mansfield said, “How would you feel yourself, that sense of fear. Fear eats your soul because at the end of the day you become occupied.

“You become reactive to what is happening around you. You do what you did that day and defend yourself.”

The trial continues


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