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FIRST CLASS THUGS; Postmen are caught in Copenhagen football rampage.

A GANG of postmen are under investigation for soccer violence in Copenhagen.

One thug, a senior union official, has been suspended from his job.

Five others face a grilling about their involvement in clashes with Turkish fans.

Three of the men were photographed during the street battles in the Danish capital.

All six will be sacked if they are found to have joined in the shameful rampage before the UEFA cup final between Arsenal and Galatasaray.

The most notorious of the group is Communication Workers Union branch chairman Michael Doherty.

Convicted hooligan Doherty, 33, organised an unofficial supporters' tour to Copenhagen for more than 30 postal workers and friends a fortnight ago.

He is ranked as a Category C soccer lout, one of the 700 most dangerous fans in the country.

Doherty, known as"The General by fellow Arsenal supporters, was caught in the thick of a charge against rival fans in a central Copenhagen square.

He was suspended last week from his job as a counter clerk at a London sorting office.

Doherty's right-hand man is his younger brother Tom, a postman at Islington in North London.

Tom, in his early 20s, was snapped punching a Turkish fan in the back as his rival tried to run away. He has been barred from work at the Almeida Road sorting office during the inquiry.

One police source said: "Both the Doherty brothers are part of a hardcore group of 30 thugs who call themselves Gunner fans and like to make trouble.

"Our officers have often spotted them at games using mobile phones and looking shifty. Whenever something does kick off, they are never far away."

Also under official investigation is postman Alan Lansdowne, photographed in Copenhagen throwing a bicycle.

Unmarried Lansdowne, 45, lives in Camden, north London, with his parents.

Michael Doherty, from Holloway, north London, refused to speak to The Mirror.

His brother chased a Mirror reporter down the street.

Confronted by evidence of the violence in Copenhagen, Tom insisted: "You've got it all wrong. We were just trying to defend ourselves. We got attacked while having a quiet drink."

Alan Lansdowne said: "I was personally attacked and I threw the bike to defend myself.

"I regret what I did and it's never going to happen again."

Three other postmen from London and the Home Counties have also been questioned.

A Post Office spokesman said: "We will leave no stone unturned to ferret out anybody who was involved in this totally unacceptable behaviour in Copenhagen. We welcome The Mirror's initiative in helping us to supply evidence to discipline any troublemakers."

Michael"Doherty has regularly followed Arsenal on trips to Europe over the last five years.

He leads a union campaign over family values.

A CWU spokesman said last night: "We condemn any football violence at home or abroad.

"We are aware of the allegations against Michael Doherty and are waiting to receive all the evidence."

Doherty is believed to advertised his trips - dubbed 'Doc Tours -' on notice boards in up to 30 London sorting offices.

The Mirror obtained one leaflet from a notice board at the Almeida Road office.

Doherty offered day return, one and two-night trips to Copenhagen, including accommodation in three and four-star hotels.

Arsenal promised to ban louts for life. A club spokeswoman said: "We welcome any information that helps us to identify the hooligans of Copenhagen.

"Once identification has been fully established we will take the strongest action possible against these so-called fans."

Two postmen were sacked after being jailed for joining in riots during the World Cup in France in 1998.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 29, 2000
Words:597
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