The journalist accused of organising the security breach of the England football team’s dressing room during the World Cup, has called his arrest a “sick joke” in a first-hand account of the events.
Sunday Mirror reporter, Simon Wright, gave his story in an article for the tabloid, insisting he legitimately bagged an interview with the intruding fan, Pavlos Joseph, after the story had broken.
Every journalist at the World Cup wanted to interview the fan. And I was fortunate enough to get to him first. Even colleagues on other national newspapers were sending me kind texts telling me I’d had a great hit and that the beers would be on them.
I still had a satisfied glow as I flew out of Bloemfontein on my way back to Cape Town a week later. England had crashed out of the tournament against Germany and in two days I would be at home with my family. Or so I thought.
But before he could fly home, Wright was charged with “defeating the ends of justice” as well as an offence under the Immigration Act. He suggests that he was arrested as a scapegoat for the authorities’ failings with security.
They said I had “harboured” Pavlos from the police – yet they had known who he was and where he was from the moment he had been led out of the England dressing room.
Wright adds that reports that he had been seen on CCTV with Joseph in the players’ tunnel before the fan entered the dressing room were false:
The false claims were reported all over the world and my professional reputation was tarnished.
The truth is that Pavlos’s sister in London rang several newspapers in Britain just a few minutes after he’d rung home to tell her what he’d done after the England-Algeria game. My news desk woke me at 3am in the morning and gave me Pavlos’s number. I rang him instantly and we arranged to meet a few hours later, when I was able to persuade him to talk exclusively to me. That was the first time we had ever met.