A FOOTBALL fan who paid a pilot to fly a banner reading ‘White Lives Matter’ over Burnley’s Premier League game against Manchester City is a supporter of the notorious far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
Jake Hepple, whose message was seen moments after players on both sides took the knee to support Black Lives Matter, has been photographed arm in arm with the former English Defence League leader.
Claiming responsibility for the stunt at City’s Etihad Stadium on Monday night, he wrote on Facebook: ‘I’d like to take this time to apologise… to absolutely f***ing nobody!’
Hepple, from Colne, Lancashire, is in the Suicide Squad — a gang of Burnley-supporting yobs believed to have spent a week crowdfunding for the banner and flyover. Lancashire Police are investigating whether he committed a criminal offence.
The aircraft — a Cessna 182 — is operated by Air Ads Ltd, a Stockport-based company that charges clients £500 an hour to fly banners. The stunt by Hepple, who works for an engineering company, left Burnley’s captain Ben Mee ‘ashamed and embarrassed’. ‘These people need to come into the 21st century,’ he said.
He said players had heard ‘whispers’ before the game that something may have been planned, adding: ‘It is not right. We totally condemn it.’ Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham said: ‘Those responsible should be ashamed.’
Blackpool airport, where the plane took off from, has suspended all banner flights.