Tory justice minister is slammed for taking selfie outside Cheltenham FC’s ground before FA Cup tie despite police and match officials ordering fans to stay away during lockdown

  • Alex Chalk, the MP for Cheltenham, posted a photo outside the club’s ground
  • The post, urging Cheltenham Town to ‘knock em dead’, was later deleted 
  • Lib Dems have accused the junior minister of flying in the face of police pleas
  • Mr Chalk maintains he did not breach rules and hit out at ‘political point-scoring’

A Conservative minister has hit out at ‘political point-scoring’ amid accusations he defied police by taking a selfie outside his local football ground on match day.  

Alex Chalk, the MP for Cheltenham, posted a photo outside the club’s Jonny Rocks Stadium ahead of their FA Cup clash with Manchester City last week.        

The post, urging Cheltenham Town to ‘knock em dead’, was later deleted but spurred allegations that he ignored officers’ pleas for fans to stay away. 

Local Lib Dems have rounded on the junior justice minister and are demanding he admit wrongdoing.

Mr Chalk maintains he did not breach lockdown rules and only removed the post because of ‘misleading attempts by some to score political points’.

Alex Chalk, the MP for Cheltenham, posted a photo outside the club’s Jonny Rocks Stadium ahead of their FA Cup clash with Manchester City last week

Local Lib Dems have accused the junior justice minister (pictured in the Commons) of flying in the face of police instructions and demand he admit wrongdoing

Officers were warning fans to stay away from the stadium ahead of Cheltenham’s fixture last Saturday, which pit the League 2 side against Premier League titans Man City. 

That afternoon Mr Chalk, who has been the constituency MP since 2015, took a selfie outside the ground and later published the picture on Facebook, hailing the ‘special’ moment for the town.

His post claimed he was passing the ground while taking his lawful daily exercise – but it prompted an outcry from local Lib Dems.

Lib Dem borough councillor Max Wilkinson, who represents the Whaddon ward where Cheltenham Town’s ground is located, said: ‘The police and the club were clear in their advice that people should stay away from the ground for safety reasons.

‘We still don’t know why our MP, who is a justice minister and should know better, decided to ignore that advice and attend the ground to produce his own propaganda.

‘The fact he deleted the posting after it was pointed out that he was breaking the rules suggests he knows he got it wrong – particularly the use of the phrase “knock em dead”.

The afternoon of the match Mr Chalk, who has been the constituency MP since 2015, took a selfie outside the ground and later published the picture on Facebook, hailing the ‘special’ moment for the town

Cheltenham Police said no fines were issued as those who did attend were responsible

‘He needs to explain is actions to local people, who are rightly asking questions about whether it’s one rule for MPs and another for local football fans.

‘Community leadership sometimes involves admitting when you’ve got things wrong.’

A Cheltenham Lib Dem spokesperson added: ‘We are calling on Mr Chalk to explain why he ignored the advice of the police and the club not to go to the ground.’

A spokesperson for the Tory MP said: ‘Alex took the photo hours before the match, with no one else around, quite some way from the ground.

‘All Covid rules were followed, and Alex watched the game from home… The post was only removed because of misleading attempts by some to score political points.’

The spokesperson also cited a tweet from Cheltenham Police, issued the day after the big match, which said: ‘No fines were issued as those who did attend were responsible and stayed socially distanced before leaving when asked by officers.’

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