‘I swore, but I’m no racist’ – Hartlepool man accused of making anti-semitic remarks about Ed Miliband

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband

A constituent accused 
of assaulting his MP and making anti-semitic 
remarks told a jury he 
did neither.

Anthony Rowbotham is alleged to have launched a tirade of abuse at Hartlepool MP Iain Wright while Mr Wright was on the election campaign trail last March.

Anthony Rowbotham.

Anthony Rowbotham.

Rowbotham is alleged to have made remarks about Jews ‘controlling all the money’, and that he didn’t want ‘the Jew Miliband’ as Prime Minister – a reference to the Labour leader at the time.

Giving evidence on his own behalf at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, Rowbotham said: “I am not anti-semitic and I didn’t say anything about Jews.

“Everyone knows how much money Mandelson and Blair are making from the banks, so I did tell Mr Wright he was a bankers’ servant.

“I did use the f-word to Mr Wright, which was inappropriate and something I shouldn’t have done.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright

“But none of my other language was inappropriate.”

Rowbotham said the incident happened as he was on his way to meet a friend and go to the gym.

He said: “I am interested in local and international politics, and used to be part of a community group.

“Mr Wright was in the street delivering leaflets, and I did say to him how dare he show his effing face around here.

“On his leaflets there was a picture of him in front of the hospital, but he’s done nothing to help save it.

“He is a good talker, but does nothing else.”

Mr Wright earlier told the court Rowbotham had threatened to go to his house and attack him and his family.

“I said no such thing,” Rowbotham told the jury. “My own family is growing, I am a bricklayer and work six days a week.

“I haven’t got the time for stuff like that.”

Rowbotham is also accused of trying to trip Mr Wright as he delivered leaflets in Milbank Road, Hartlepool.

Carl Belben, who Rowbotham was meeting to go to the gym, told the jury: “I saw Mr Wright cut across Tony Rowbotham as if he wanted to change direction.

“There was a mound of grass there, and I thought Mr Wright had stumbled a little over it.”

Carl Willoughby told the jury he was walking with his son in Milbank Road at the time.

“I couldn’t hear what the two men were saying,” said Mr Willoughby. “It looked like they were just having a normal conversation – there was no shouting.”

Rowbotham, 43, of Oakley Gardens, Hartlepool, denies religiously aggravated harassment, and common assault, both on March 5, last year.

The jury was expected to retire to consider its verdicts today.

The trial continues.