Last week, Sussex Police were forced to admit that the statements they released in the wake of Crystal Palace’s trip to Brighton back in November of 2017 contained false information, thanks to a Freedom of Information request lodged by Five Year Plan and the group are still far from finished in their search for clarity.
Superintendent Simon Nelson (he was promoted shortly after the game in question) had been in charge of the match-day operation that evening, with Palace fans kettled across Brighton and Falmer by the force before being marched back to the train without being admitted to The Amex Stadium. The immediate aftermath of the night in question saw Nelson describe the scenes as a “return to the dark days” whilst suggesting in his official report that knives and knuckle-dusters had been recovered from the away end, all of which has since been found to be untrue, calling into question his core motives throughout the process.
To Five Year Plan’s credit, they have been like a figurative dog with a bone throughout the long-winded quest for clarity and are now finally getting some answers following numerous Freedom of Information requests but Robert Sutherland is keen not to let the momentum that has gathered behind the discussion die down without some form of consequence for those who were directly involved in the swearing of over 1,500 Crystal Palace supporters.
There are many who would lose patience and or enthusiasm for such a pursuit but Rob should be applauded for the relentless approach he’s taken to this whole saga in my view. The process is a long-winded and often highly frustrating one but at no point has he taken his foot off the pedal in the search for the truth, which in itself is providing a service to the Palace fans who travelled down to the south coast that evening.
It would have been easy to take the police at their word and shrug off the official report, thus leading to years of taunts from Brighton fans about carrying weapons into the away end of the stadium; thankfully, almost a year on, we now have unequivocal proof that those original statements were false.
The story is far from over yet.