SUSSEX Police could be forced to answer to a government watchdog to explain why a high-ranking officer falsely accused football fans of carrying knives and knuckledusters.
Chief Inspector Simon Nelson was pressured into a dramatic climbdown yesterday having said in an official statement the force had seized the deadly weapons in the aftermath of the Brighton and Hove Albion v Crystal Palace game on November 28.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) could now launch an inquiry as to how Ch Insp Nelson was allowed to tell the world that deadly weapons were confiscated at Brighton’s home ground despite all evidence pointing towards them never existing.
In order for the independent body to investigate, one of three things need to happen.
Sussex Police could refer themselves to the IPCC, someone affected by the incident could complain to the force therefore requiring them to refer themselves to the IPCC or the body themselves can deem the situation serious enough to intervene unprompted.
One Brighton resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s a serious concern when a copper doesn’t know if they’ve found weapons or not.”
Both clubs have had their names dragged through the dirt by Sussex Police, and Albion’s hierarchy are furious over the incident, The Argus understands.
Palace fan Rob Sutherland said the police’s handling of the situation was “disgusting” and criticised Ch Insp Nelson.
The officer was under fire yesterday with football fans, including 29-year-old Albion supporter Robin Ward, calling for him to resign.
At this stage The Argus understands no official inquiry has been launched by the IPCC, but the incident will be reviewed over the coming days.
Additionally, fans have told the paper they are considering making a complaint themselves and police are preparing to sit down to review the chain of events internally next week.
Ch Insp Nelson announced he was leaving the country on Thursday afternoon just hours before his employers made the stunning announcement their previous statement was incorrect.
He initially said Albion’s stewards found the weapons, something his employers later had to dismiss as incorrect.
A police spokesman also told a reporter the force had physical possession of the knives and knuckledusters – another inaccuracy Sussex Police had to make a U-turn on.
Both clubs sent stewards to the ground for the match, but neither reported finding weapons.
Sussex Police refused to answer a series of questions put to them by The Argus, instead issuing a statement quoting Chief Superintendent Neil Honnor who would not be drawn on whether or not it would be referring itself to the IPCC.
Albion’s Paul Barber has written to The Argus addressing some issues over the Palace match – it will run in Monday’s paper.
l Crystal Palace are not happy about a reduced ticket allocation of 2,000 for the FA Cup tie at The Amex on January 8, instead of the expected 4,600 tickets expected.
Source: The Argus