Fan says police ruined his life after wrongly accusing him of rioting

Rangers supporter was accused of taking part in street violence in Manchester following club's Uefa Cup defeat.

A football fan says that his life had been ruined after he was wrongly accused of rioting at last year's Uefa Cup final.

Rangers supporter James Clark was accused of taking part in the trouble on the streets of Manchester when the Glasgow club visited last year.

But he walked free from court on Friday after he was cleared by a jury.

Mr Clark, 35, claimed he was plucked out of the crowds at random and beaten by officers.  He told the Daily Record newspaper: "I have been through utter hell because of the police. They picked me out of crowd of fans at random, beat me black and blue with their batons and set their dogs on me.

"Yet they charged me with being violent. You couldn't make it up."

He added that his lawyer said the police were trying to portray him as some sort of cross between William Wallace and Rab C Nesbitt.

Mr Clark, from Baillieston in Glasgow, said on his arrest last year, the first thing police had to do was take him to hospital as he was covered in blood.He claimed police dogs ripped chunks of flesh from his legs and police batons left marks on his body.

The supporter was among an estimated 175,000 fans who travelled to Manchester for the Uefa Cup final between Rangers and Russian team Zenit St Petersburg on May 14.

Rioting erupted across the city after a giant television screen set up to show the game stopped working. This infuriated supporters, many of whom had been drinking heavily all day. Rangers lost the match 2-0.

Mr Clark said he had hired a motorhome with a friend to travel down to the game and was at the big screen in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens when it failed.

The case, which involved repeated appearances at court in Manchester, also cost the scaffolder his job, he said.

He was put on trial for violent disorder alongside fellow fan Simon Toland, 19, from Belfast.

Police claimed he and Mr Toland taunted officers and encouraged other fans to indulge in such behaviour. But jurors at Manchester Crown Court took two hours and 40 minutes to find them not guilty. 

Mr Clark now plans to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the behaviour of Greater Manchester Police.

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