Charges have been dropped against three football fans who were facing prosecution for using the word “Yid”.
“We have decided that, although the same words used in other contexts could in theory satisfy the criteria for ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’, it is unlikely that a court would find that they were in the context [of these cases].”
Baljit Ubhey, CPS chief crown prosecutor for London
Gary Whybrow, 31, Sam Parsons, 24, and Peter Ditchman, 52, were all hauled before magistrates after allegedly using the language at Tottenham matches last autumn.
Today the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the words could not legally be counted as “threatening, abusive or insulting” in the circumstances.
Baljit Ubhey from the CPS said that as a part of standard procedure, a “senior level review” of the cases concluded there is “insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that the cases against Peter Ditchman, Gary Whybrow and Sam Parsons should be discontinued”.
He said: “As part of the review, the context of the use of the words alleged in this case was reconsidered, and we have decided that, although the same words used in other contexts could in theory satisfy the criteria for ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’, it is unlikely that a court would find that they were in the context of the three particular cases in question.
“We have therefore concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. This decision has no bearing on any other cases that may be brought to our attention and all cases will be considered on their own facts and merits.”
Mr Whybrow, from west London, and Mr Parsons, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, were charged after attending a Spurs match on November 7, while Mr Ditchman, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was charged after attending a game on October 6.
For years Tottenham, who have a strong Jewish following, have been on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse from opposition fans.
Martin Cloake, a board member of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said: “We are glad that common sense and freedom of speech has prevailed. We said all along we didn’t think there was sufficient evidence for a prosecution; what has changed between the CPS decision to prosecute and now?
“We would like to see what the detail of the ruling was, and would like to hear what the police response is, because supporters have been worried about using the word. We will be looking for a clarification as to what happens next.”
Referring to instances where opposition fans have hissed at Spurs fans, mimicking the gas chambers of the Holocaust, he added: “We would like to see what action, if any, they will start to take against anti-Semitic actions at games.”
The legislation used to arrest the three men has since been altered. The word “insulting” has been dropped from section 5 of the Public Order Act, which included reference to “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress”.
Police and the FA had previously warned football fans not to use the word, but Prime Minister David Cameron said he did not think Spurs fans should be charged for using it as it was not “motivated by hate”.
The word “Yid” and chants of “Yids”, “Yid Army” and “Yiddos” are regularly sung in the home stands at White Hart Lane.