Yesterday, a local man called Barry Chambers spent twenty hours atop some Gloucester roof, besieged by police, chucking bricks at nearby cars, eating KFC and generally making a nuisance of himself. Today he appeared in the magistrates’ court, charged with various offences, and was denied bail.

There was apparently an unusual (nay, unheard of) incident in the courtroom. According to the radio report I heard in the car, a local journalist stood up at the end of the hearing and shouted “This court is racist!” He was held back for contempt, apologised to the court, and was released.

What are the questions that naturally spring to mind?

For me, I wondered – why did the journalist, someone apparently well-respected in local circles and not given to strange outbursts, stand up and yell that the court was racist? Was he and/or the suspect and/or anyone else involved in the case claiming actual racism in the actual case? If so, what was being complained about? Was there any basis for it? Who was black and who was white in all this?

These questions were not answered in the radio report.

Searching on the Internet at home, I found out a little more.

When his hearing was over, Chambers stayed in the dock for five minutes protesting his innocence and accused the magistrates of racism.

Then a man in the public gallery stood up to support him.

Chris Meehan, of Swindon Road in Cheltenham, said: “This court is racist. I was exercising free speech. You have to say what you think. Cheltenham is racist as a town and it seems to infiltrate into everything in public life including the court system.”

Chairman of the bench Robert Matthewson told Mr Meehan he took offence and warned him he would be locked up if he did not apologise.

Mr Meehan replied: “I’m a journalist and a member of the European Union. I’m trying to get to the bottom of what is happening in the criminal justice system. I’m trying to speak up for social justice and for the minorities in this world. I have no reason to offend you or the court. I spoke out of turn and I apologise.”

Mr Meehan was released without charge.

So, yes, there was some allegation of racism about the specific case. But what? Is it that the magistrate is being racist in denying Mr Chambers bail? Is it something else entirely? Was there any basis for the claim? And, again, who was white and who was black in all this? Isn’t any of this relevant? The fuzzy photo gives you a clue about Mr Chambers (the man pictured on the ground is him, I assume), but what of Mr Meehan or Mr Matthewson, for instance?

Why aren’t any of the reporters talking about the race issue that both Mr Chambers and Mr Meehan are clearly to keen to raise? Are they scared to face the real issues of race in Gloucestershire? Do they want to brush it under the carpet? If so, can they really call themselves journalists? It’s no secret that there is racism in Gloucestershire. So why isn’t anybody talking about it?