MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The Burnley fan who took responsibility for the “White Lives Matter Burnley” banner displayed from a plane above the Etihad Stadium has been fired from his job, British media reported on Wednesday.
Jake Hepple, 24, who stated on Facebook that he had been involved in the incident which took place at the start of Burnley’s Premier League match at Manchester City on Monday, was dismissed by aerospace manufacturer Paradigm Precision.
The company said in a statement that it “did not condone or tolerate racism in any form”.
The banner was a response to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign which has been widely supported by Premier League clubs.
The Lancashire Telegraph reported Hepple’s girlfriend Megan Rambadt, who worked at Solace Foot Health and Reflexology, was also sacked after she refused to attend racial sensitivity training.
A Lancashire Police investigation into the incident found that no criminal act had taken place.
The banner has been strongly condemned by Burnley Football Club who have said those involved will be banned for live from their matches.
Since the restart of the season after the COVID-19 stoppage Premier League players have worn “Black Lives Matter” on their shirts in place of their names and taken a symbolic knee before kickoff.
This follows the league formally joining the international protest campaign sparked by the death last month of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.
Hepple, 24, told the Daily Mail that there had been an “over-reaction” to the incident.
“We were not trying to offend the movement or black people. I believe that it’s also important to acknowledge that white lives matter too. That’s all we were trying to say,” he said.
“I stand by this banner and what it says 100 percent. I’m not sorry at all and I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done,” he added.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond
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