A man repeatedly punched an anti-fascist protester in front of children during an EDL march in Hull, a court has heard.
John Claydon, 46, was pictured by the Mail being dragged away by police officers seconds after the attack. He was one of four men who appeared before city magistrates yesterday in connection with trouble at the August 17 march. Claydon, of Dronfield, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Prosecutor Deborah Gibson told Hull Magistrates’ Court how Claydon had lashed out at David Harding, part of a six to eight-strong group taking part in a “silent” protest, holding placards, outside St Stephen’s shopping centre in Ferensway.
She said: “This defendant tried to grab Mr Harding’s placard, which simply stated Hull was a multicultural place, before repeatedly punching him in the face, forcing him to the floor. He continued to punch Mr Harding. Mr Harding was punched about six times to the face. The attack was only stopped when police officers dragged him off Mr Harding.”
Mr Harding was left with a cut to his face, which required ten stitches, as well as two black eyes. Miss Gibson said Mr Harding’s mobile phone was also broken, most likely when he was forced to the ground. She said a key aggravating feature of the attack was the fact that it was carried out in front of families on a Saturday afternoon. “The assault was in full view of children,” said Miss Gibson.
More than 400 EDL supporters took part in the march, with all those arrested having travelled to Hull from elsewhere.
Ian Phillips, defending, said his client admits attacking Mr Harding, but denies punching him several times. He said: “My client argues there were two punches, not the five, six or more as the Crown describes.” Claydon was granted bail on condition he resides at his usual address and will be sentenced at Hull Crown Court on September 20.
Meanwhile, Melvyn Parker, 46, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, admitted using threatening and abusive language against Mr Harding. Parker also admitting possession of cocaine, a class A-controlled drug.
Miss Gibson said: “As the march proceeded along Ferensway at around 2.40pm, there was another group protesting against the EDL. No gestures were being made.”
Referring to Claydon and Parker, Miss Gibson said: “Two males broke away and approached these protesters. Mr Parker grabbed a banner from one of these protestors to try to stop the protest. That protester was Mr Harding. Mr Parker pushed, albeit lightly, a female who was with Mr Harding. When Mr Parker was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a small quantity of cocaine.”
Defending, Dave Robson said Parker – a dad-of-two and a struggling bricklayer – was drunk and became “caught in the political passion” of the EDL march, but regrets his actions. Mr Robson said: “He says he was called names, including a Nazi, which upset him. He took offence to that and grabbed the placard.” Parker was ordered to pay £265 costs.
David Bolton, 52, of Braintree, Essex, who has the letters EDL tattooed on the back of his head and a red rose on his neck, pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
The court heard staff at the Star and Garter pub in Portland Street called police at 3.25am on August 17 because they believed a group of men were carrying knives. Bolton was searched and no weapon was found. However, he was arrested after ignoring seven warnings from police to stop shouting obscenities at them, said Miss Gibson. Defending, Mr Phillips, said: “He admitted that he could not keep his mouth shut.”
Wayne Douglas, 43, of Hemsworth, West Yorkshire, admitted charges of being drunk and disorderly and possession of cannabis, a class B-controlled drug. Miss Gibson said Douglas was caught by officers urinating in the street “in full view” of passers-by. He was subsequently searched and a small amount of the drug was found in a tin.
Both Bolton and Douglas were given 18-month conditional discharges and ordered to pay £100 in costs.
Not only did Claydon forget that the EDL is supposed to be non-violent, but his Facebook page suggests that it’s also escaped his attention that the EDL denies its supporters are racists.
As for David Bolton, who was convicted of using threatening words or behaviour, he is the EDL’s London regional organiser: