Hartlepool man in court over alleged attack on town’s MP

Anthony Rowbotham
Anthony Rowbotham

A builder who was cleared of making anti-semitic remarks to his MP is facing a retrial for common assault.

Anthony Rowbotham, of Oakley Gardens, Hartlepool, was alleged to have made the remark, about the then Labout leader Ed Miliband, to Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Iain Wright MP

Iain Wright MP

A jury at Teesside Crown Court cleared Rowbotham of religiously aggravated harassment earlier this year, but could not reach a verdict on a second charge of common assault.

That charge stems from an alleged incident on March 5, last year, when Mr Wright was delivering general election leaflets in Hartlepool.

Rowbotham is alleged to have tripped the MP as the pair walked across a grassed area.

Rowbotham, 43, admits having a political discussion with Mr Wright that day, but denies common assault.

The case was back before Teesside Crown Court yesterday, but due to a listing error it was not before the first trial judge, Recorder Nick Lumley QC, but was before Judge Sean Morris.

Prosecutor Ian Mullarkey told the court: “It is the prosecution’s intention to seek a restraining order, even in the event of an acquittal on the remaining charge. It would be desirable for that application to be heard by the first trial judge, because he has heard all the evidence given so far in the case.”

As a part-time judge, Recorder Lumley does not sit regularly at Teesside Crown Court.

Judge Morris agreed Recorder Lumley should hear the case, and said he would telephone him to establish when he could next be at Teesside.

The hearing was further delayed by Rowbotham’s late arrival at court.

Andrew Teate, defending, said: “Mr Rowbotham works as a builder and he went to the site early to make sure the job would proceed smoothly in his absence, leaving plenty of time to come to court.

“However, there was a crane in difficulty on the A19, which meant Mr Rowbotham found himself delayed in heavy traffic.”

Judge Morris said he accepted Rowbotham’s excuse for being late.

The case was adjourned until a date to be fixed in the week commencing September 12.

Judge Morris told Rowbotham: “You may have bail until then, but you must understand the court always comes first.”

Rowbotham was bailed on condition he does not contact Iain Wright or his family, or go to the MP’s constituency office.