Police payout after fans 'locked in' pub before match

Eighty football fans have shared nearly £200,000 in compensation and won an apology from police who trapped them in a pub before a Manchester United game.

The Stoke City supporters said they were told to "urinate into cups" after officers banned them from the toilet at the pub in Irlam, Greater Manchester.

They were then put on coaches and taken back to Stoke-on-Trent just hours before kick-off in November 2008.

Greater Manchester Police admitted acting "erroneously".

Under section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act, police are allowed to give directions to individuals who represent a risk of disorder.

However, the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), which represented many of the fans, said they were not causing any trouble in the pub.

An FSF spokesman said they even spoke to the pub landlord who said the supporters were so well-behaved he would make them sandwiches if they returned.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said: "The police imprisoned these fans in a pub and refused to allow them to use the toilets.

"They then illegally served them with notices, hired some coaches and just deposited them in the middle of Stoke - they broke the law and now they are paying out for it.

"Ironically Stoke lost the match 5-0, so they did not miss too much and many of the fans can use the compensation for their season tickets."

The total amount paid out to the 80 supporters was £184,850, the police confirmed.

GMP said it had acted on "intelligence" but admitted that officers' actions were heavy-handed.

Every person awarded compensation has also received a letter of apology from Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

GMP's deputy director of legal services Sian Williams said: "We have paid damages to complainants after finding that we had erroneously used powers under section 27 Violent Crime Reduction Act in November 2008.

"At the time the use of the powers was new and we have since taken steps to improve our understanding of the legislation to try to prevent this from happening again; by dealing with the cases within legal services, we made a saving on handling fees of over £16,000."

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