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'White Lives Matter' Burnley fan sacked from his job after Etihad Stadium plane stunt

5:00 pm AEST 25/6/20
White Lives Matter plane
The Clarets supporter has been handed a lifetime ban by the club but will not face any criminal action following a police investigation

The Burnley fan behind a 'White Lives Matter' banner that was flown above the Etihad Stadium has been sacked from his job at an engineering firm.

The banner, that appeared in the sky as Burnley faced Manchester City in the Premier League on June 22, was widely criticised at a time when there is significant global support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Clarets fan Jack Hepple, 24, has taken responsibility for the banner and has since been handed a lifetime ban by the club. He won't, however, face any police charges following the conclusion of an investigation. 

While avoiding any criminal action, Hepple has lost his job, with a spokesperson for engineering company Paradigm Precision confirming there had been a break in company policy.

They told Sky News: "We have concluded our investigation into the conduct of one of our employees in relation to an incident at the Burnley vs Manchester City match, as well as other related matters.

"We have concluded that there has been a breach of the company's various policies and procedures. The individual no longer works for the company."

Regarding the decision not to take criminal action, chief superintendent Russ Procter, of Lancashire Police, said: "After assessing all the information available surrounding this incident we have concluded that there are no criminal offences that have been disclosed at this time.

"We will continue to work with our partners at the football club and within the local authority."

Burnley CEO Neil Hart, meanwhile, admitted he was "disgusted" by the banner and stressed that it didn't reflect the values of the club. 

"I was disgusted to sit in the directors' box of the Etihad and see that plane fly over the stadium," the CEO explained to BBC Sport when asked about the incident.

"It's not good, we stand in solidarity with our players, with our stakeholders, our management team, with our community and our town, and we will continue to be very strong in our words against any form of discrimination. 

"I think disgusted is the word I would use."

Since the incident, Blackpool airport has announced it is suspending all banner-towing operations, with Stephen Smith, the airport's manager, insisting that the incident was "reprehensible".