First Female to Receive Football Banning Order in North East

Trinity Chambers' Regulatory and Licensing barrister Asa Anderson appeared on behalf of the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police (the Chief Constable) before the Teesside Magistrates' Court on 16 December 2014 when District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) Harrison (the District Judge) imposed a three year Football Banning Order (the banning order) upon Middlesbrough Football Club supporter Julie Phillips, the first female in the North East to receive a banning order. The application was made under section 14B of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (the 1989 Act). The case has attracted both local and national press coverage since it was lodged by the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police (the Chief Constable) on 11 June 2014.

The application for a banning order by the Chief Constable followed Miss Phillips' conviction before the Birmingham Magistrates' Court on 01 May 2014 of causing racially/religiously aggravated harassment, alarm & distress during a Middlesbrough Football Club game at Birmingham City Club on 07 December 2013. During the incident Miss Phillips deliberately tore pages from the Quran passing them to fellow supporters close by, as well as chanting what are described as anti-Muslim and anti-Quran words.  Notwithstanding the fact that Miss Phillips was convicted of the above matter, the Justices sitting at Birmingham Magistrates' Court refused to impose a banning order upon conviction under section 14A of the 1989 Act finding: "Although a very unpleasant offence and some pre-planning, we have heard nothing in relation to your previous conduct at football matches to suggest that making a banning order would help prevent violence or disorder at football matches in the future …". It later transpired that details of other football related incidents involving Miss Phillips were not brought to the attention of the Birmingham Magistrates' Court when it was considering whether to impose a banning order upon conviction. However, following the conviction Miss Phillips was made subject to a life time ban by Middlesbrough Football Club on 10 July 2014.

The application for a "free standing" banning order was therefore brought under section 14B of the 1989 Act by the Chief Constable. Miss Phillips was represented throughout by specialist solicitors and counsel who specialise in representing football supporters facing banning order applications in the magistrates' court and Crown Court.

Miss Phillips contested the making of a banning order from the outset arguing initially that the Chief Constable's application for a banning order was a collateral attack against the decision of the Birmingham Magistrates' Court and as such was as an abuse of process of the court. The District Judge rejected such argument following a hearing to determine this point on 23 October 2014.  The District Judge ordered the matter proceed to application on 16 December 2014. Thereafter, Miss Phillips continued to oppose the making of a banning order.

The District Judge heard the application on 16 December 2014 and, following a 1 day contested application, was satisfied that a banning order should be imposed upon Miss Phillips for a three year period.  The District Judge ruled that the statutory test was met: (i) "That … [Miss Phillips] has at any time [within the last 10 years] contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere" [section 14B2 of the 1989 Act] and (ii) "that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches"  [section 14B ( 4) (b) of the 1989 Act]. The District Judge was also informed of other football related incidents involving Miss Phillips: (1) on 07 November 2009 (which led to Miss Phillips' conviction on 11 February 2010 for a section 5 Public Order Act offence) following Middlesbrough Football Club's away game against Crystal Palace Football Club.  Miss Phillips became abusive and boisterous on her return journey from Kings Cross using abusive language so much so that she was ejected from the train at Grantham Station; (2) on 30 July 2013 it was said that Miss Phillips again used abusive language on a train following Middlesbrough Football Club's game at Hartlepool United and was warned regarding her behaviour; (3) on 23 February 2013 it was said that Miss Phillips was abusive towards match stewards at Middlesbrough Football Club's game against Millwall at the Riverside Stadium - she was arrested in relation to the incident but no further action followed.

In addition to the three year banning order, the District Judge ordered Miss Phillips to pay a contribution towards the Chief Constable's costs in the sum of £770.00. The District Judge did agree, however, to amend the proposed application so as to allow Miss Phillips to enter Middlesbrough Town Centre on any day that Middlesbrough Football Club plays a Regulated Football Match at the Riverside Stadium for the purposes of her employment at a local pub within the Town Centre.

Asa Anderson is a member of Trinity Chambers' Regulatory and Licensing practice groups.

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