Former Forest Green footballer to stand trial over 'racist Tweets'
FORMER Forest Green Rovers midfielder Lee Smith has been told he will stand trial for allegedly posting a racist Tweet on Remembrance Day despite defence claims that the case would be unfair.
District Judge Joti Bopa-Rai ruled that Smith's case had not been prejudiced by early media reports after he was initially told he would not be charged. Smith, 28, who played for the Nailsworth club for one season in 2010, denies Tweeting that illegal immigrants ‘should be killed’ on November 11 last year.
He made the comments on his now deleted Twitter account - sparking an online row with some branding him a racist.
At the time, police warned him about his comments but said there would be ‘no further action’ taken.
Just eight hours later however, Gloucestershire Police and the CPS decided to summons him to court to face a criminal charge of writing racially aggravating words likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to the public.
The footballer, of Arreton Avenue, Gloucester, who also played for Gloucester City and Worcester City football clubs, has always denied any wrongdoing and has apologised for any offence caused.
Appearing at Stroud Magistrates’ Court on May 21, Smith’s defence argued that early reports of the incident before charges were brought meant he would not get a fair trial as details were included that would otherwise have to have been omitted by law.
But Judge Bopa-Rai disagreed and said she saw no reason to delay or halt the proceedings.
"Mr Smith was given an unequivocal promise that he would not be prosecuted and he was released," she said.
"But for there to have been prejudice, he must have acted on that information to his own detriment, which he has not done."
The case was adjourned for trial at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on July 4.