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Leeds United as families fight for justice

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The campaign to secure justice for two Leeds United fans murdered before their team’s Uefa Cup semi-final with Galatasary has won the backing of Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton. It is now more than 10 years since Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight were brutally stabbed to death and the victims’ families are appealing to football fans across Britain to back their fight. (See the bottom of the page for details on how you can help.)

Four men were found guilty of involvement in the murders but all were released on bail pending an appeal which, a full decade on, has yet to be heard. The men remain free to this day.

On April 5th 2000, the eve of Leeds’ Uefa Cup semi-final against Galatasaray, Chris and Kevin were sitting in a bar prior to the game having a few beers with friends when they were attacked. Locals arrived on the scene armed with bats and knives and launched an entirely unprovoked and orchestrated attack. Both fans received multiple, and fatal, stab wounds.

Disgracefully Galatasaray’s Director of Football, Mete Razlikli, tried to deflect attention by claiming the fans were banned hooligans who didn’t have ticket for the match. This was refuted by both families and proven to be entirely untrue when West Yorkshire Police later confirmed that neither man had any football-related convictions.

“The slurs started straight away,” said Chris Loftus’ brother Andy who has fought a long campaign to win justice for his brother. “None of what the Turks later claimed actually happened, including the abusing of any women or, most ridiculously of all, a car being overturned. It was all lies and at the inquest in England the police confirmed we had not done anything to provoke them.”

Injured fans were then refused help by Turkish police who instead decided to beat those trying to save their fellow supporters’ lives and the 2004 inquest heavily criticised the police’s actions: “Any suggestion at all that they might have been there to cause trouble cannot be substantiated,” said Coroner David Hinchcliff.

“The police gave the impression they were targeting the Leeds supporters. Many were struck with batons, many were taken to the police station notwithstanding the fact that they were injured and needed hospital treatment. The police seemed to be out of control and their ability was described by witnesses as being diabolical.”

It also emerged at the inquest that Turkish police had refused to meet their West Yorkshire counterparts to share intelligence and coordinate plans – a tragic decision which had fatal consequences for Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight.

To back the families’ fight ask your local MP (who you can find and contact via TheyWorkForYou.com) to sign Fabian Hamilton MP’s Early Day Motion which “calls on the Government to mark the 10th anniversary of the murders by intensifying pressure on the Turkish authorities to conclude the appeals.”

In addition to their fight for justice the families of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight have also launched an appeal to raise £100,000 for the Leeds cancer charity Candlelighters.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe