Freelance photographer Dan Westwell was refused entry at Chester City football club just over a week after being arrested and banned from Mansfield Town FC’s Field Mill.
He turned up at Chester’s Saunders Honda Stadium to photograph Mansfield, who he has supported all his life.
Westwell’s troubles began on 20 January when he was covering a match at Field Mill and displayed a protest sign on his computer saying ‘Haslam Out”, referring to the club’s chief executive Keith Haslam. Some Mansfield Town fans have been campaigning for Haslam to step down. When the sign was seen by security on Westwell’s computer at Field Mill he was escorted by them from the ground. He was arrested by police and charged with a public order offence because of his alleged behaviour while he was leaving the ground.
He was later released on police bail and appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court on 26 January, where he was charged with a section five public order offence. He is due to appear again in court on 9 February.
Westwell received a letter from the Mansfield Town club secretary saying: ‘Pending ongoing investigations into the alleged offence on Saturday 20 January 2007, we withdraw our invitation of access to the Field Mill ground with immediate effect and until further notice. ‘I would further ask that you do not cause embarrassment to either yourself or our staff by attempting to gain access as a paying customer to any areas of the football ground until any further notice is provided to yourself to the contrary.’This weekend Westwell went to see Mansfield play in Chester and was refused entry at the gates.
Westwell said: ‘I went to Chester at the weekend because they were playing Mansfield, but when I got there the club secretary came over to my car with a chief steward and said I wasn’t welcome; not even as a fan.’Westwell told the stewards he had not been convicted of anything and they allowed him in to the ground. But he claimed he was forced to sit on his own in the stands, told he could not take pictures at pitch-side and was watched by stewards.
Chester City would not comment on its treatment of Westwell.