Roger Firth can often be seen stewarding English Defence League demonstrations in the South East. What he has not revealed to his friends in the EDL is his past, in particular his imprisonment for his part in attempts to fix a Premier League football match.
In 1999 the floodlights went out at a Premiership match between Charlton Athletic and Liverpool, played at Charlton’s ground in Greenwich, southeast London. The failure was the work of a Malaysian betting syndicate allegedly linked to Chinese Triad gangs, and was part of their plan to rig football fixtures in England.
In August 1999, four men were sentenced for their part in the match fixing scandal. Two were Malaysian nationals – one an electrical expert – who each got four years. The third was a 49-year-old security guard from Eltham, south London, employed by Charlton Athletic. That man was Firth, now the defender of all things English in his pernicious role with the EDL.
Firth turned against the gang and became the chief prosecution witness in return for a reduced sentence. He had been paid £20,000 in cash to allow the Malaysians into the ground in his part of a “highly professional, technical, criminal operation”.
All the men went on to plead guilty to conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The judge described Firth’s motive for helping the syndicate as plain and simple greed.
The gang was rumbled when Firth tried to bribe a fellow employee at the club with £5,000. Firth received an 18-month sentence, while his accomplices were later deported. One newspaper at the time labelled Firth a “supergrass” and alleged that he was to get a new identity and address to protect him from the Triads’ clutches.
A former Territorial Army soldier, Firth was in charge of daytime security at Charlton Athletic and was a former bodyguard for the football stars Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne.
When he is not stewarding for the EDL, Firth is one of the leaders of the tiny, radical anti-Muslim English Nationalist Alliance, a ragtag bunch of racists based mainly in outer east London and Essex.
If there is one thing the average EDL member despises it is a police informant, so it is no surprise that Firth has hidden his shady past. He has successfully managed to dodge the Triads; his next hurdle could be his comrades in the EDL.