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Minister Says There Was “No Obvious Justification” For French Police Using Tear Gas At Champions League Final

3 min read

Digital minister Chris Philp has said he was “horrified” to see pictures of football fans being doused in pepper spray and tear gas by French authorities at the UEFA Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, the minister said he could not see an “obvious justification” for the actions of the French police, which sparked outrage across the UK and France over the weekend.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin appeared to blame the chaos on UK fans who had travelled to the Stade de France in Paris to watch Liverpool play Real Madrid.

Writing on Twitter, Darmanin said police were required to act because some British supporters did not hold correct tickets, forced entry into the stadium and assaulted stewards.

His account is disputed by Liverpool fans who have described police as responding with force to long queues that built up in the hours preceding the game. Kick off was delayed by 36 minutes because of the disorder.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has urged UEFA to formally investigate the “deeply concerning” scenes, and said that it is within every party’s interest to “learn lessons”.

“I was horrified to see those pictures of fans, including some children and disabled fans, being pepper sprayed by French police,” Philp told Sky News.

“Nadine is quite right to call for UEFA to urgently investigate exactly what happened there, because we don’t want to see football fans, least of all children and disabled fans, being pepper sprayed by police in the way that we saw,” he added.

“I really am concerned by it, the government are as well, and we need UEFA to properly investigate exactly what happened and get to the bottom of it.”

UEFA has said it intends to “review these matters urgently” and the French sports ministry has called a meeting with the body as well as the French Football Association, stadium officials and police to learn lessons from the event.

Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy has described scenes in Paris over the weekend as “absolutely horrendous”.

“To turn on social media and see those images emerging of children, like the minister said that had been sprayed with pepper spray, it was just unbelievable,” Nandy said.

“Back here in the north west we remember the 15 April 1989 like it was yesterday,” she added, referring to the Hillsborough disaster.

“I think for a lot of people back here it bought back absolutely horrific memories.”

“We still live with the legacy of that here,” Nandy added.

The shadow minister has called for an independent investigation into the final to “make sure this is never allowed to happen again”.

Nandy also said she wants to see politicians and the media united in clarifying they do not blame fans for the event.

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