Sunday Mirror journalist in court over fan in dressing room

A journalist has been arrested over the incident in which a football fan from south-east London walked into the England dressing room after the World Cup match against Algeria.

Sunday Mirror reporter Simon Wright, 44, was detained on Monday at Cape Town international airport after he was allegedly identified in CCTV footage from Cape Town’s Green Point stadium on June 18.

He appeared in a special World Cup court in Cape Town late on Monday night on charges of defeating the ends of justice and flouting the Immigration Act. He was granted 3,000 rand (£260) bail, his passport was confiscated and he will appear in court again on Wednesday.

The National Commissioner of Police, General Bheki Cele, said Wright had helped to orchestrate the incident – a claim strenuously denied by the Sunday Mirror.

General Cele said: “The police have reason to believe this incident was orchestrated, and involved the co-operation of a number of individuals. This is revealed by initial investigations and what has been observed from CCTV footage.

“The police strongly believe the motive was to put the World Cup security in a bad light, and possibly to profit from this act.”

But a Trinity Mirror spokesman said Wright was engaged in a legitimate story and denied he was involved with the fan, Pavlos Joseph, before the incident.

The spokesman added: “He was engaged in a legitimate story for his newspaper and any suggestion that he or the newspaper was involved with Pavlos Joseph before he entered the England dressing room is entirely false.”

Joseph gave an interview to the Sunday Mirror in which he said he was looking for the toilet after the match when a security guard sent him in the direction of the players’ tunnel.

Joseph, 32, from Crystal Palace, claimed he took a wrong turn and found himself in the changing room where he berated the players for their poor performance.

He said he told David Beckham: “David, we’ve spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?” He was arrested at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay two days after the match and charged with trespassing, and will appear at the same court as Wright, but for a separate hearing, on Wednesday.

At a previous hearing Joseph was banned from attending any more World Cup matches, his passport was seized and he was released on 500 rand (£44) bail.

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