McBride memoirs publisher Iain Dale apologises and accepts police caution after scuffle with protesting pensioner

The political blogger and former Labour spin-doctor was frustrated by protester Stuart Holmes standing behind him during an interview

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The Independent Online

The political blogger and publisher of former spin doctor Damian McBride's memoirs has apologised and received a police caution for common assault after a fight with a pensioner during a live television interview.

Iain Dale, of Biteback Publishing, voluntarily attended a police station in Brighton, where he was covering the Labour party conference, following a scuffle with veteran nuclear campaigner Stuart Holmes.

Sussex Police said a 50-year-old man from Pembury, Kent, attended a station today, admitted common assault and received a police caution.

Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison said: “We respect the rights of people to protest peacefully. We will investigate fairly any allegation regardless of who is involved and we will seek the most appropriate resolution.”

Mr Dale was trying to film an interview with Daybreak when Mr Holmes stood in the background holding up a banner reading: “No Nukes - Radio Active Dust Cancer Epidemic.”

Photographers then captured a frustrated Mr Dale physically attempting to haul the protester out of the way, and ultimately dragging him to the ground.

Writing afterwards on his blog, Mr Dale said that the only injury caused in the incident was when Mr Holmes’s dog, also called Stuart, bit its owner on the backside.

“In some ways I have committed the cardinal sin of becoming the story myself, rather than my author, and I regret that,” he wrote. “But do I regret that I stepped in to protect my author? No, I do not.

“One of the snappers afterwards said to me that I did what they had all been dying to do for years, as he regularly interferes with their professional work.

“Everyone has an inalienable right to protest, but no one has a right to make a continual nuisance of themselves and interrupt interviews like that.”

Afterwards, Mr Holmes told reporters: “I was not ruining the interview, I was just in the background. I was not saying anything.

“Then this giant of a guy turned up and grabbed hold of me. I struggled free and in the process we ended up on the floor.”

Mr Dale has since followed up his first blog post – which he now calls “absurd bravado” – with a written apology, in which he says: “I have embarrassed not only myself but my family and my work colleagues and I apologise to them.

“I know there will be many who will never forgive me for what I did and I understand that, but those who know me will know that I mean every word of my apology to Mr Holmes, Mr Miliband, the Police, my family, friends and colleagues.”