A FORMER company director jailed for a racist verbal assault has had his sentence reduced on appeal and has vowed to clear his name.

Chris Gargan insists he is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted in June, and having been released from prison after successfully appealing the four-month jail term, he is now fighting to have the conviction overturned.

Mr Gargan, a former president of Whitehawk FC and former director of the KSD property management group, said “I will not rest until I have my name cleared. It’s a scandal what’s happened. I did not say those words. I’m not a racist.”

On June 28, Judge Anthony Niblett told Gargan at Brighton Crown Court that his language was “totally abhorrent” after a jury found him guilty of causing racially aggravated alarm, harassment and distress.

He was said to have walked up to a pregnant woman of Jamaican descent at the Fiveways Pub in Ditchling Road, Brighton, in April last year, and said “they don’t let n**-n*** in here.”

Mr Gargan, 55, insists he is innocent and that after the woman’s young children had spent several minutes running around the pub shouting and screaming during the FA cup semi-final, he asked the family to take control of their “noisy sprogs.”

He said that when the judge passed sentence, he felt “in disbelief.”

“I just felt incredulity and shock - I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

At a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on July 19, Appeals Court judges approved Gargan’s legal team’s request that the sentence be reduced to six weeks from its original four months.

Allowing for time served this meant Gargan, of Malthouse Lane Hurstpierpoint, was released from Ford Prison from where he had appeared at the hearing via videolink.

Yesterday he told The Argus he had retained one of the country’s top barristers, Michael Wolkind QC, to fight to overturn what he described as a “complete and utter miscarriage of justice” which had “totally changed” his life and career.

Referring to youthful criminal convictions unearthed by The Argus following the case in June, Mr Gargan said: “I had a tough upbringing and I turned my life around. I was in the wrong crowd, I’ll put my hands up to that, but that was 30 years ago. I’ve grafted for 30 years, I’ve been an upstanding member of the community, and then I get this wrongful conviction.”