Joey Barton has been slammed by the foundation set up in honour of the “blameless” teenager murdered by his brother in a racially motivated attack for referring to the incident as a “f---ing scrap”.
An excerpt from an appearance by the former Newcastle United and Manchester City midfielder on the James English Podcast was released on Thursday in which Barton said that “my brother lost 17 years of his life from 17”.
Anthony Walker, who was just 18 at the time of the attack, was found with an axe in his head. Michael Barton and Paul Taylor were both found guilty of murder, with Barton serving a 17-year sentence.
“Michael Barton did not lose 17 years of his life, the only life lost that day was Anthony’s and not for 17 years, but forever,” said a statement from the Anthony Walker Foundation.
The trial judge described the attack as “racist thuggery of a type that is poisonous to any civilised society”.
Barton denied the killing at the time, but has since accepted his role in the offence. Taylor, who struck the fatal blow at McGoldrick Park in Huyton in July 2005, had admitted the crime.
The full interview with Barton on the James English Podcast is due to be released at 5pm on Friday but, in an excerpt, he refers to the crime.
“My brother lost 17 years of his life from 17,” Barton said. “Because his mate, who was his cousin at the time, thought it would be a fantastic idea when they were having a f---ing scrap to pull an ice axe out, and swing it into somebody, and it stuck in his head.”
In response, the Anthony Walker Foundation said that they regarded Barton’s description of the murder as “lacking in any sensitivity given the serious nature of the incident, in which Anthony Walker tragically lost his life to a violent racially motivated attack by Mr Barton’s brother and his cousin Paul Taylor”.
The statement added: “This year is the 18th anniversary of Anthony’s murder, so we express our hope that Mr Barton will reflect on the impact of his words and the profound significance of the actions of his brother as he walks the street a free man.
“It saddens us that someone with his reach and status would seem to trivialise the incident that led to such an outcome and heap further pain and suffering upon the family and friends of Anthony. The Anthony Walker Foundation will continue to strive for a more inclusive world where such an incident never reoccurs.”
Barton, who is now 41, has managed Fleetwood Town and Bristol Rovers since his retirement as a player.