A woman accused of trying to headbutt a police officer after a protest march by right-wing groups in South Tyneside will stand trial next year.
Hollie Smallwood denies obstructing or resisting a police officer in the execution of their duty, and being drunk and disorderly in a public place. The two charges relate to a march through South Shields by members of the English Defence League (EDL) and the North East Infidels on Saturday, August 31.
The 350-strong groups, who were protesting against radical Islam, were met at Pier Parade in the town by about 100 counter-protesters from South Tyneside Unites Against Fascism. The alleged offences are said to have taken place after the march, when Smallwood and her pals were drinking outside Kirkpatrick’s pub in South Shields.
The 27-year-old entered not guilty pleas to the charges at a hearing in October. She was back at court on Friday, for a trial date to be fixed. Speaking at the previous court hearing, Smallwood’s defence solicitor, Kevin Smallcombe, said:
“This incident is not said to have happened during the protest itself. This is a separate matter, alleged to have happened after the protest had finished and while my client and friends were drinking outside Kirkpatrick’s in South Shields.
“An officer went to speak to the group and claims Miss Smallwood was drunk and being abusive. He then claims she tried to headbutt him. She denies both allegations.”
Seven arrests were made on the day as 200 police escorted the march through the town.
EDL supporter Craig Owens pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour at the march at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in October. Owens, of Bruce Crescent, Hartlepool, was fined £65 and ordered to pay £85 and a £20 victim surcharge.
Of the remaining five people arrested, two were given fixed-penalty notices, one was cautioned, one was released without charge and another was bound over to keep the peace.
Smallwood, of Manor Grange, Lanchester, County Durham, was granted unconditional bail until the trial at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on April 1.
Update: See “EDL rally cop-attack charge dismissed”, Shields Gazette, 2 April 2014