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Former councillor pleads guilty to posting racist comments about England football players

|News, Hate crime

A former Shropshire parish councillor has pleaded guilty to posting racist content about England football players on social media.

Paul Bradbury, 64, who was a member of Pontesbury Parish Council in Shropshire, made racist remarks on Facebook about football players who missed penalties during the game following the Euro 2020 final on 11 July 2021.

The posts were reported to the West Mercia Police which conducted an investigation and referred the case to the CPS. The CPS authorised the police to charge him with one count of sending by public communication network a grossly offensive message.

Initially, Bradbury claimed that his Facebook account had been hacked, but when questioned by the police he admitted that he had he had posted the messages on Facebook. He pleaded guilty at his first hearing at Telford Magistrates' Court on Friday 4 March and was sentenced to fines, costs and victims surcharge of £1,150 in total.

Peter Love of the CPS said: “The CPS takes all forms of racist offending seriously, and we will prosecute those who commit these offences where there is sufficient evidence to do so, and it is in the public interest. At the time of his post, Paul Bradbury was not just a member of the public but an elected official in a position of trust within a tight-knit rural community. There is evidence that the posts caused offence to members of the local community. I want to thank the witnesses who came forward to report the offence.”

The CPS is currently working with the police, player bodies and organisations, to explain what evidence is needed to pass our legal tests to authorise charges in hate crime cases. This will help clubs and the leagues protect their players by ensuring we get everything we need to build the strongest cases.

Douglas Mackay of the CPS said: “Hate crime has no place within society let alone sport. Recently we have seen an increase of reports in racist abuse connected to football and this is a development we are determined to play our part in cutting out.

“Last summer, the England team united the nation as they made their way through Euro 2020. Unfortunately, England’s success was overshadowed by a troubling spike in online racism directed towards a number of young black players. We saw this especially after the penalty shoot-out against Italy.

“If you see, read or hear of any offensive racist and homophobic language, please report it to the police who will investigate. And if our legal tests are met we will seek to serve justice through the prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes as we have done with  Bradbury.”

Notes to editors

  • Peter Love is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands
  • Douglas Mackay is the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands and the CPS national sports lead prosecutor
  • Paul Bradbury (DOB: 03/10/1957) pleaded guilty to sending by public communications network an offensive message. Bradbury was sentenced to a fine of £923, costs of £135, victims surcharge of £92. Without the racial aggravation factor the fine would have been £346.

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