CCTV footage that may have justified – or undermined – the controversial claim by the French authorities that 30-40,000 Liverpool fans descended on the Champion’s League final in Paris with fake tickets, has been lost.
Reports in France suggest the authorities failed to obtain the video recordings from the Stade de France within the legal time limit, and they have now been deleted.
The French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, was heavily criticised for peddling ‘fanciful’ claims that up to 70 per cent of all tickets sold for the mismanaged match at the Stade de France, between Liverpool and Real Madrid, were fakes.
It’s been claimed that Liverpool supporters were responsible for the fiasco at the stadium in French capital on May 28, which saw chaotic and dangerous scenes outside the ground before and after the game.
But on Thursday, the Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, admitted in evidence to a Parliamentary hearing that he had concocted the figure of 40,000 fake tickets from feedback he received from his officers and transport officials.
He conceded the number had ‘no scientific virtue’, but was based on his perception.
Even so, Lallement continued to insist that there were ‘far more people’ than the stadium could contain and he claimed thousands of those left outside with fake tickets were ‘not in sight of CCTV cameras’.
Police hold back Liverpool fans as chiefs say large numbers of people with fake tickets caused bottlenecks – but fans say faulty turnstiles were to blame
However, following Lallement’s appearance at the hearing it emerged that the French authorities failed to claim vital CCTV recordings from the environs of the stadium, which could have cast more light on what happened.
‘CCTV footage from Stade de France showing ‘extremely violent’ videos has been removed,’ reported the French broadcaster, BFM TV.
‘They have not been claimed by the courts within the legal period of 7 days.’
Erwan Le Prévost, director of institutional relations of the French Football Federation, told the channel: ‘The images are available for seven days. They are then automatically destroyed. We should have had a requisition to provide them to the different populations, the images are extremely violent.’
Fans were stuck outside the Stade de France for two hours before being hit with tear gas by French police
Whatever the images revealed they have now been lost and there appears to be few hard facts to back up the industrial counterfeiting claims, or the suggestion that it was this that led to a crush outside the Stade de France prior to kick off.
‘I was perhaps mistaken’, said Mr Lament at today’s Parliamentary hearing in Paris, adding: ‘It was obviously a failure because people were jostled and attacked, although we had a duty to keep them safe. It is also a failure because the image of the country has been shaken.’
Questioned further about his claim that up to 40,000 Liverpool fans turned up without genuine tickets, he continued: ‘I never claimed that the figure was perfectly correct but it seemed to reflect the situation around the stadium.’
Before he added: ‘The figure has no scientific virtue but it came from feedback from police and public transport officials.’
Paris police chief Didier Lallement gave evidence about the security operation for the UEFA Champions League final at a Senate hearing in the French capital today
Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters, as well as VIP guests and sponsors were caught up in frightening and dangerous scenes outside the Stade de France at the UEFA showpiece.
Many supporters could not access the stadium despite having valid tickets.
And in the ensuing chaos, before and after the UEFA showpiece, which Real Madrid won 1-0, supporters and attendees were tear-gassed by French police, including children, and forced to run the gauntlet of local youths intent on assaulting and robbing them.
UEFA has apologised to supporters and announced its own independent review into the shambolic events in Paris and a special investigation by the Mail on Sunday revealed how the complete breakdown of law and order – with supporters targeted by gangs – almost led to fatalities.
Shocking video footage has emerged of a nine-year-old boy crying on the streets of Paris after his father was hit with tear gas deployed by French police in the aftermath of the Champions League Final last night. Football author and Liverpool fan Carl Clemente posted the clip on Twitter showing his young son sobbing as he desperately tried to wipe the tears streaming from his eyes following the attack
The MoS investigation suggested a massive IT failure contributed to the chaos in Paris, contradicting the accounts of the French police and government, who sought to blame the scenes on fans.
Mr Lallement used his appearance at today’s hearing to also address concerns over the police tactics used at the stadium. He was largely unrepentant, maintaining that if he had not given the order to tear gas supporters, they would have stormed the stadium.
‘The only way was to gas people,’ he said.
Stark images showed vast clouds of tear gas smothering supporters, as riot police sprayed others in the face with pepper spray before the match.
‘I’m fully aware that people of good faith were gassed, sometimes even families,’ Mr Lallement told the meeting.
Gerald Darmanin (right) said filtering out the fake tickets had caused long delays and dangerous crushes for Liverpool fans getting into the Stade de France, after sport minister Amelie Oudea-Castera (left) had blamed the club for the chaos
French officials under fire for chaos at the Champions League final in Paris claimed tens of thousands of fans had turned up with fake tickets, presenting two near-identical passes while claiming one was a forgery (right)
But he added: ‘I’m sorry but there were no other means. The only way was to gas people. I asked for gas to be used.’
Lallement said that without the use of tear gas the only option would have been to charge the crowd.
He added: ‘I think it would have been a mistake to charge people. It would have been devastating.’
Kick-off was delayed as the situation outside the stadium descended into mayhem.
‘I am totally sorry, on behalf of the police force, if fragile people were affected, but it was the only way to avoid the invasion of the stadium’
Riot police hold back fans at the stadium entrance as supporters complained of a lack of open gates, staff and problems with ticketing that saw some wait for hours to get inside
‘I therefore confirm that the decisions taken were the only ones to guarantee the organization of the match and avoid any form of serious accident’
‘There were no accidents with Liverpool supporters in Paris, although a number were quite drunk’
In the aftermath of the match, the interior minister, Mr Darmanin gave a press conference alongside the Paris police chief, who showed off what they said were near-identical fake and real tickets to prove their case.
At the time, they did not say how they had established one ticket was a fake, amid reports of people with real tickets being turned away due to malfunctioning turnstiles.
Ronan Evain, head of the Football Supporters Europe association who was at the game, quickly dismissed the claims of up to 40,000 fake tickets being in circulation as ‘completely fanciful’.
FSE observers had noticed some fake tickets being sold, he said, but described the issue as ‘marginal’ and nothing out of the ordinary for a major final.