Paul Gascoigne accused of making racist joke on stage
The former England football star Paul Gascoigne is at the centre of a hate crime investigation by West Midlands police, according to reports.
The inquiry follows an allegation that the 48-year-old made a racist joke during a show at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 30 November. During the event – An Audience with Paul Gascoigne – the former footballer allegedly told a black security guard, standing against a black background: “If you weren’t smiling, I wouldn’t be able to see you.”
“Gazza knew what he’d done straight away,” said a witness quoted in the Birmingham Mail. “There were gasps. It’s such a shame because he was really on form, the best I’ve seen him for a long time.”
Police had yet to interview Gascoigne, but a person close to the former Newcastle United and Tottenham player said he was aware of the complaint. A review of the show in a Wolverhampton newspaper described Gascoigne as a “flawed genius”, and made passing reference to the remark that has led to a police inquiry.
“The audience is in fits, too,” reported the reviewer. “But as is often the case, just when it’s all going so well, Gazza goes too far. Spotting a black security chap in a darkened corner of the stage, he says he can’t tell if he’s smiling or not. The Civic took an audible gasp as the laughter instantly dropped from raucous to nervous.”
The West Midlands force confirmed an investigation was under way.
“We can confirm that we have received a report of a hate crime, which allegedly happened during a performance at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Monday 30 November,” a spokesman said.
“Officers have taken an official statement from the victim and the inquiry is ongoing. Police take reports of hate crime extremely seriously and a thorough investigation will take place. Anyone who is a victim of this type of offence should not have to suffer in silence and is encouraged to report it to police on 101 or via the internet at www.report-it.org.uk. We will neither confirm nor deny any names at this stage.”
The incident casts a cloud over Gascoigne’s Black Country tour. Before the event, he met Georgie Gibbs, a three-year-old who has cerebral palsy and who is at the centre of a fundraising campaign in her home city of Worcester.
From The Guardian