'Don't let them blame us'
Tear gas, fake tickets and accusations of a cover-up as Liverpool fans suffer in Paris
Dear readers — disturbing videos of fans being tear gassed by French riot police at the Champions League Final in Paris over the weekend have prompted demands for a major inquiry into what went wrong — and why supporters were blamed. We take a look at how UEFA and the French government’s claims are unravelling. Plus, two great boozy events over Jubilee Weekend and a Georgian home of the week in Woolton.
Our weekend read was an inside look at the trial resulting from the death of Ava White, a 12-year-old schoolgirl who died at the hands of a 14-year-old boy, who is about to be sentenced as one of the country’s youngest killers. Read that piece here.
The Post @liverpoolpost"How are we, as a society, supposed to treat young people on this uneven cusp of adulthood?" The tragic death of Ava White and the trial of Boy A, by @molssimp https://t.co/ig2NeMn0CB
This week’s weather
The big story: ‘Don’t let them blame us’
Top line: Distressing videos of Liverpool fans being tear gassed by French riot police at the Champions League Final in Paris have re-opened old wounds, with local MP Ian Byrne saying the scenes made some supporters fear they were about to witness another Hillsborough. The European football governing body UEFA blamed fans arriving late for the 35 minute delay in kick off — but footage of how and why fans were delayed entering the stadium contradicts that explanation and has prompted accusations of a “coverup”.
How it happened:
Fans entered the first checkpoint into Stade de France through six narrow funnels.
Once they were through, a cluster of police vans was parked near the gates, further restricting access.
It got worse when scanners weren’t picking up valid tickets, which slowed down entry.
A huge crowd became congested at two of the gates into the stadium. Some tried to escape the queue, anticipating a potential crush.
The first tear gas was released when some fans, described as locals, tried to jump the queue: but footage shows tear gas was directed at Liverpool fans waiting to get in. As many as eight waves of tear gas were released on fans, including children and some disabled supporters.
On the night, a Liverpool supporter named Ava, posted on social media: “2 hours queuing. Only got in for half time. tear gassed 4 times despite the fact we were nothing but peaceful. 14 year year old cousin beat up by people trying to steal his ticket. don’t let them blame us!!!!!”
The French government has blamed the chaos on ticket fraud on an “industrial scale” and the sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra suggested at a press conference this afternoon that as many as 40,000 of all tickets coming into Stade de France were fake. Merseyside Police, who were on the ground in Paris that night, dispute this. Oudéa-Castéra didn’t address how these thousands of tickets got past the initial security cordon.
Tear gas was adopted by French police forces for civil riot control as early as the 1920s. The state’s use of it has been criticised for misuse at peaceful protests. Leading human rights organisation Amnesty International say tear gas should only be used in situations of violence to disperse a crowd, and when all other opportunities to contain the violence have failed: “not when they are in a confined space or where roads or other routes of escape are blocked”.
Pressure is growing for UEFA and the French government to apologise. The UK government has joined calls for an investigation into the organisation and policing of the match.
Your Post news briefing
The cost of living crisis has rightly been getting a lot of attention in the media. This BBC report takes another angle: how poverty inflicts itself upon the physical health of children. “Lauren” from Merseyside is quoted, saying that the respiratory problems her children suffer from are being worsened by the conditions of their home. “I wake up in the night and hear rats squeaking in the cavity walls and then find their droppings on the toys,” she says. The piece refers to Sir Michael Marmot’s All Together Fairer review, which exposes health inequalities across Merseyside and Cheshire, looking at areas of “substantial wealth and substantial deprivation.” Dr Ian Sinha — a leading consultant respiratory paediatrician at Alder Hey Children’s hospital — believes inadequate housing is a common thread throughout his patients. He says: “There is a clear link between poor lung health and poverty, and it begins in childhood.”
In spite of the tear gas, the batons, the brutality inflicted upon fans by French riot police before the match and the ultimate disappointment on the pitch for Reds during the Champions League Final, one Liverpool supporter whose weekend had something of a silver lining was 15-year-old Harrison McDonald. McDonald, who polished off an English GCSE exam on Friday, then performed to crowds of 100,000 in Paris on Saturday as a DJ alongside established acts such as The Lightning Seeds. His set was part of a pre-match mini-festival of acts. Now, he’s off to Ibiza for a short tour before returning to Liverpool for the last of those exams. Read more.
Twelve refurbished shipping containers will become food and drink outlets after Sefton council gave the green light to the Bootle Canalside regeneration project. Additional funding of £567,000 — alongside £2.1 million invested so far — has now been approved. The finished site will be used for open-air events as well as a hospitality venue. Sefton council leader Ian Maher said he expected it “will kickstart the regeneration and reorientation of Bootle town centre.” To read more, and view the proposed designs, click here.
Home of the week
A four-bedroom Georgian detached house just came on the market for £450,000 in Woolton. It’s near Allerton Towers, the woods and has a rear garden.
🧘♀️ Vegan brunch and vinyāsa yoga at an eco-cafe might sound like a siren call to the world’s most stereotypical millennial — or a sentence designed to induce an aneurysm in the head of Piers Morgan — but it’s also an event taking place at Factory Kitchen on Saturday. The class is suitable for yoga beginners and bringing your own mat is advised. Tickets are £17, but you’ll go away exercised and fed.
🎧 Would you like to wander around a vinyl market in resurgent Birkenhead, with a craft beer waiting for you at the bar? If so, Future Yard is hosting its very popular craft beer and vinyl market on Saturday. It’s free entry.
🍷 Drink and taste your way through the weekend at this festival celebrating Liverpool’s illustrious fine dining scene. There will be a cooking demo from Art School Restaurant chef Paul Askew at the Bombed Out Church, a produce market at Derby Square and wine tasting in the Town Hall. View the full programme here.
🌷 You can create a bouquet using the finest seasonal British flowers at Lush this weekend, guided by expert florists. There will be hot drinks, cake, and you can take home your creations. Tickets are £30.
Our favourite reads
A sad and revealing interview with Liverpool winger Luis Díaz in The New York Times, who recalls one of his old rivals, Daniel Bolívar, who he trained with growing up in La Guajira in Colombia. By common consensus, Bolívar was the stronger player, but he lacked the same opportunities as Díaz and now works in a coal mine in South America. “There is no doubt in Díaz’s mind about where he comes from, of whom he represents. He does not speak the language, but it is the blood in his veins, the beat of his heart. Díaz is the exception, the talent that was found while all the others were lost.”
Did multiple loving marriages in the North West really end in murder-suicide? In this fascinating long read in The Mill, the Sunday Times’ northern editor David Collins looks at the brutal deaths of two elderly married couples in Cheshire and one in South Manchester. Two years ago, Collins was leaked an extraordinary document written by a local coroner which suggested that the deaths were more likely to be the work of a single, undetected serial killer.
Fergus Butler-Gallie, who has worked in Church of England parishes in Liverpool, questions why the church is increasingly relied upon to deliver food banks and anti-loneliness schemes in place of the welfare state in this feature for The Fence. Butler-Gallie writes: “William Temple’s vision, that the Church should counteract the ‘lack of love’ found in the structures of the state is still, for many, the ideal approach. But as that lack of love strips those structures away, a weaker, less confident Church is being relied upon — not least by those in power — to step into the breach. How long it can stand there is another question.”
A book review in the TLS of Leslie Thomas QC’s memoir explores the emotion behind the cases where the state or a public body fails its duty: inquests, inquiries, deaths in custody and police shootings. Thomas, who has spoken at Liverpool Crown Court, writes about the “grief, anger and frustration” of working within the justice system, the families who have died at the hands of the state and his plea for change.
Photo of the week
Letters from readers
The further education sector is too often overlooked amidst the obsession with schools and universities — and with A Levels as some kind of “gold standard”. There are other routes and qualifications. A healthy education system requires the return of local authority power, functions AND funding, all robbed by 12 years of coalition and Tory austerity. It needs proper apprenticeships and the return of day release for ALL workers ‘Aspiration and education in the forgotten borough’, Kevin Donovan
This piece about the Mersey Ferry is charming. The writing style in The Post is chatty, conversational, easy to read. Perfect. Thank you ‘A day in the life of the Mersey ferries’, Anna Reid
Just so unutterably sad. So many lives ruined ‘The trial of Boy A’, Alex