Former British Soccer Exec on Trial for Violent Response to ‘Dirty Jew’ Epithet Pleads Innocent
A former British soccer executive accused of breaking the nose of a man who called him a “dirty Jew” professed innocence to the charge of assault, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
David Buchler, 64 — who served as vice chairman of the club Tottenham Hotspur in the early 1990s — said he accidentally elbowed James Birrane in the face during a dispute with the man and his wife at Harrods in London on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Buchler testified that he had been on line to purchase challah and pastries, when Mr. and Mrs. Birrane accused him of cutting in front of people and became aggressive, with one of them hurling the antisemitic slur. He said he had raised his arm in self-defense and accidentally hit Birrane, who then began “clawing at my face and trying to get hold of my face, but got my glasses and threw them down.”
“It’s all terribly surreal to me now,” Buchler said. “I have never hit anybody in my life…I have never done anything, never been arrested, never done anything at all…I was defending myself, but I am so sorry if I have really hurt him and he has broken his nose. I’m devastated. I’m just so sorry.”
Serving as a character witness, MP for Tottenham David Lammy said, “I have known [Buchler] well for some 16 years…I have seen him dealing with tense situations and defusing them at times of challenge. I have never seen him lose his temper or react angrily, and I have never seen him behave badly in either deed or language. He is by nature a modest and unassuming man who never boasts and who makes light of his remarkable achievements and success is life. I know him also to be a very kind and generous and charitable man.”
Mrs. Birrane denied using antisemitic language, claiming, “My husband is Jewish. His father is Irish. His mother is a Jew.” She said that it was Buchler who was spewing profanity, telling the saleswoman at the shop: “I’ve only got two f***ing croissants and I’m in a f***ing hurry. Get on with it.”
Buchler rejected this version of events. “I’m not a man who swears,” he said. “I’m not an angry chap. I can be firm if I need to be firm, but I’m always courteous. I see absolutely no reason to swear or use bad language, certainly in the context of what happened.”
Defense attorney Jonathan Goldberg argued that the Birranes fabricated their story, pointing to the fact that in their statements to police, they got the time of the incident wrong.
The trial is still ongoing.
UPDATE: Buchler was cleared of all charges on Thursday.