LOFT statement to the Ilford Recorder
Shortly after the promotion-clinching match at Oxford, the Ilford Recorder ran a front-page story focussing on the activities of BNP activist Jason Douglas at the game and referring to a "violent pitch invasion".
Many Orient fans were incensed at the story, and the negative impression it gave of Leyton Orient and its supporters, and LOFT was contacted to give a statement.
The statement was not quoted in the Recorder's subsequent (and very brief) apology to (as it put it) "genuine fans". LOFT's statement in full is reproduced below.
"The Leyton Orient Fans' Trust (LOFT) is disappointed with the misleading and inaccurate way your newspaper portrayed the events at the end of the Oxford vs Leyton Orient football match on May 6.
As an organisation that has campaigned against racism at Orient - and has helped organise the club's Kick Racism Out of Football days - we understand your desire to campaign against racist organisations such as the BNP and to scrutinise the activities of its members like Jason Douglas. However, your story does a great disservice to the overwhelming majority of Orient fans as well as grossly misreporting the events of May 6.
There was no "violent pitch invasion", as your story claims. The 4,600 jubilant Orient fans in fact stayed off the pitch at the end of their thrilling promotion-clinching victory, and it was more than a quarter of an hour after the game had finished that the line of police and stewards was moved back to allow the O's fans to move onto the pitch to continue the celebrations. However, some Oxford fans who had inexplicably stayed in the ground, came onto the pitch and one tried to attack the Orient defender Gaby Zakuani. Your front-page photo in fact shows a tiny handful of Orient fans responding to this.
We are concerned that your front-page story does not acknowledge the efforts of both fans and Leyton Orient to rid the club of racism, and are disappointed that no effort was made to contact supporters' groups for more information about this absurdly overblown incident. Moreover, your report is at odds with the national media's reports published immediately after the game. It is of particular concern that stories such as this enable the BNP to portray themselves as innocent victims of inaccurate media coverage. We feel that an apology is owed to innocent Orient supporters."