Michael Shields’ parents in Anfield plea to free jailed son
Nov 25 2008 by Mike Chapple, Liverpool Daily Post
LIVERPOOL FC has given its biggest public endorsement for the campaign to free Michael Shields, the football fan convicted of attacking a Bulgarian waiter in the wake of their European Cup win in May 2005.
Following approaches by his campaign group and Spirit of Shankly, the union formed by the club’s supporters, it has made the unprecedented agreement to allow his parents Michael senior and Marie, together with actress Sue Johnston, to address the crowd from the pitch 10 minutes before kick-off at next Monday’s evening match against West Ham.
The Kop has also been sanctioned to hold up a mosaic spelling out Free Michael Shields before the game which will be broadcast nationwide by Sky TV.
Liverpool players have also agreed to wear T-shirts bearing the same words before the game after being approached by the Spirit at a special meeting held with them at the Liverpool FC training ground at Melwood yesterday, although this has still to be officially confirmed.
This came after Jamie Carragher invited union members Nicky Allt and Frank Bentley in for an audience with other players such as Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia and Dirk Kuyt to tell them about the campaign to free Shields, currently serving 10 years for the serious assault he claims he did not commit on Martin Georgiev in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands.
“The players were brilliant, listening to everything we had to say promising to wear the shirts and get all the other Liverpool players at the game to wear them as well,” said local writer Mr Allt, a founder member of the union.
The announcements came today as Mrs Shields travelled to London with a group of other wives to meet Vauxhall MP Louise Ellman.
They were later due to present a petition at 10 Downing Street to Sarah Brown, the PM’s wife calling for the 22-year-old’s release by the British prison authorities after being returned to this country by the Bulgarians in November 2006.
She said this was in advance of a judicial review being held on December 4 brought after campaigners legally challenged Justice Minister Jack Straw’s claim that he had no jurisdiction to consider either a pardon or an early release, insisting it was still down to the Bulgarian authorities.