Man accused of racially abusing ex-Pompey player on Twitter

Tal Ben Haim in action
Tal Ben Haim in action
Conor Chaplin and Brett Pitman. Picture: Shaun Boggust

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A MAN could face up to six months in jail amid allegations he directed racist abuse at an ex-Pompey player on Twitter.

Matthew Smith is charged under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

It follows allegations that the 33-year-old sent an abusive message directed at former Pompey defender Tal Ben Haim, 30, who left the club earlier this month after three years.

Hampshire police were today given the go ahead to charge Smith by the Crown Prosecution Service following a probe into the Tweet, which was allegedly posted on the social networking website Twitter on August 6.

Stacey Turner, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex Daytime Charging Unit said: ‘We have today authorised Hampshire Constabulary to charge Matthew Smith, aged 33, with an offence under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

‘This follows the posting of an abusive message on Twitter directed at a professional football player who at the time the message was sent played for Portsmouth Football club.

‘We have carefully considered the evidence provided to us by the police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute Matthew Smith with this offence.’

Berry could face up to six months in jail and a fine if he is convicted following a trial.

He has been released on bail.

A spokesman for Portsmouth Football Club said: ‘Obviously we do not condone the alleges statement that has been made.

‘We are fully supportive of Hampshire Constabulary in their investigation.’

Smith – who is due to appear before Andover Magistrates next month – is the second person to be arrested in the space of a month for abusing sportsmen on Twitter.

A 17-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications over a malicious tweet sent to GB Olympic medallist Tom Daley.

He was given a harassment warning and bailed pending an probe into other communications on Twitter.