Norwich City FC apologises over handling of kit internet posting

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Media captionChris Brown said he was deeply sorry and regretted his actions

Norwich City has apologised for the way it dealt with a teenage fan who leaked pictures online of their new football kit before its official launch.

Police had been called in to investigate 17-year-old IT student Chris Brown, from Norwich, but the matter has been dropped.

The club said it now believed Chris had posted the images through "enthusiasm" rather than "malicious intent".

Chris has apologised to the club for any inconvenience he may have caused.

He said: "I'm sorry for any offence I might have caused to the club, but I would never do anything malicious or spiteful because I do have an interest and love the football club."

Source code

The teenager obtained the pictures from the club's kit launch website as it was being updated and then posted them on Twitter.

He added: "I'm glad we've had a meeting to sort things out with the club and now I just want to move on and look forward to Saturday's game against Blackburn."

In a statement Norfolk Police confirmed they had investigated an offence of unauthorised access to computer data, under the Computer Misuse Act , after being contacted by the football club.

Image caption The 2012-13 kit season was officially unveiled at Carrow Road on Wednesday

A club spokesman said: "The club recognises and has listened to the very strong feedback from supporters criticising our initial handling of the matter and this is something we have acknowledged to Mr Brown and his family, and apologised for."

Chris, a season ticket-holder who has followed the team home and away since he was about 11 or 12 years old, said he was called by the football club at 04:30 BST on Wednesday after posting the new kit on Twitter and internet forums on Tuesday night.

He said he was "shocked" to receive the telephone call, during which the club asked him how he obtained the pictures and where he had posted them.

Chris told the BBC he was able to take the images from a section of the site that was being worked on, finding them linked from a file within the website's source code.

Any computer user can view this through their internet browser.

When asked by the BBC whether he thought posting the pictures was wrong, Chris said: "Not at first, maybe when I was getting retweets and mentions from people on Twitter that's when I sort of thought 'should I really have done this?', and I do regret it."

His mother Trish Brown said: "I feel Norwich could have handled it better.

"I feel they could have spoken to Chris and myself... and just discussed why he'd done it, asked him a few more questions, before involving the police.

"He knows he's probably done wrong by taking it a bit further, but that was just excitement to show other people what he had done."

'Storm. Teacup. Bless'

Independent marketing company Emmerson Marketing was employed by the club to provide a website to promote the kit launch and host the kit imagery

Matt Emmerson, from the firm, said: "We are all extremely disappointed and I feel especially so for letting down our client Norwich City.

"We knew security was very important to Norwich and although we believe we took appropriate security measures to secure the site we were devastated to learn that there was a way for images to be obtained earlier than the planned launch."

Copyright infringement is only a criminal offence if someone makes money from it or causes the copyright owner serious damage.

Tweeting on the matter, Norwich City fan and actor Stephen Fry summarised the day's events as "Storm. Teacup. Bless."

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