Crown Prosecution Service
Millwall fan receives football banning order for homophobic slurs towards Bournemouth fans
A so-called football fan has been banned from football matches and fined for homophobic abuse of Bournemouth fans.
Paul Bignell, 47, was recently (28 April 2023) sentenced at Poole Magistrates’ Court for using threatening, abusive and insulting words with intent to cause harassment, alarm, and distress, to opposition fans and a football steward. He was also banned from attending football matches in the UK for a period of four years.
At the EFL Championship fixture between AFC Bournemouth and Millwall on 7 May 2022, Mr Bignell hurled homophobic abuse towards Bournemouth supporters. A female steward and Millwall supporter who was working at the match witnessed and heard the homophobic abuse and challenged Bignell. Bignell reacted by directing further homophobic abuse at the victim.
The steward notified the police which then led to Bignell’s arrest. Upon questioning he denied the offence. He continued those denials during his trial. The magistrates found him guilty after a trial on 5 April 2023.
Gavin Sumpter of the CPS recently said:
“Paul Bignell shouted homophobic abuse towards the Bournemouth fans and then targeted a female steward who had bravely challenged him on his behaviour and informed him that she was herself married to a woman and found his words extremely offensive.
“The offence was committed in a football stadium where people of all ages and backgrounds should be able to enjoy the sport without fear of being subject to such awful abuse. There is no place in football or our wider society for homophobic, racist or any other discriminatory or prejudicial behaviour.
“We will continue to work with police forces, football clubs and authorities to ensure that individuals who commit hate crimes at or in connection with football are prosecuted and are banned from attending matches in the future.”
Douglas Mackay, CPS Sport Lead Prosecutor, recently said:
“Being vocal and passionate at a football match is part of the football experience, but abuse and homophobia excludes fans from enjoying the game. Football is an inclusive sport and there is no place for homophobic abuse in our stadiums.
“The CPS has an important part to play in making football safe and inclusive for all fans and our message is clear that those intent in engaging in homophobic abuse can expect to be prosecuted and be banned from watching the sport live.
“We will work very closely with football clubs, authorities and charities to make sure that this this sort of behaviour is dealt with robustly.”
Operational Football Officer Police Constable Simon Young, of Dorset Police, recently said:
“We do not tolerate homophobic abuse in our communities and will do all we can to ensure those who use hatred language are held accountable for their actions.
“We want to ensure that everyone who attends a football match is safe from prejudice and we will continue to work with our partners to relentlessly pursue this type of behaviour.”
Notes to Editors
- Gavin Sumpter is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wessex
- Doug Mackay is the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands and CPS Sports lead prosecutor
- Paul Bignell (DOB: 28 November 1975) from Hertfordshire has been found guilty of homophobic hate crime related offences and sentenced to a football banning order and fine.
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