Showjumper denies golf club fight

(First Edition)

HARVEY SMITH, the international showjumper, denied losing his temper after a greenkeeper allegedly called him an 'old bastard', a court was told yesterday.

When interviewed by police the showjumper also denied having a reputation as a hard man.

Mr Smith, 55, is accused of punching a greenkeeper on Baildon golf course, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, and pushing him into a tractor, leaving him with a cut head which needed stitches.

He denies assaulting Richard Haley, 22, causing him actual bodily harm in February last year.

The jury in the trial at Bradford Crown Court was played a taped interview Mr Smith gave police two days after the alleged assault. He claimed he got into an argument with Mr Haley and two other greenkeepers, Nick Faram and Stephen Gardner, about the way they were driving a tractor and the damage it was causing to Baildon Moor.

He said that Mr Haley moved towards him, saying: 'You old bastard, you ought to be retired.' Mr Smith told police: 'All of a sudden he was getting agitated and he was strong and I thought 'hello'. I half moved towards him. When he saw me coming he turned round and banged his head on the tractor. I went to get hold of him but he had gone. I never swung at him - I just went to get hold of him.'

Detectives questioning Mr Smith suggested he may have lost his temper with the three greenkeepers. But Mr Smith said: 'One thing about me is that you cannot get me angry. I know what life is all about - live and let live.' Referring to the alleged assault, he said: 'I have not made a mistake and I have not lost my temper. I have not done anything out of character. I have not done anything wrong.'

Mr Smith claimed Mr Faram, 52, also came at him, swinging punches, and a blow landed on the showjumper's shoulder. But Mr Smith said he did not think he had hit Mr Faram, who was left with a black eye after the incident.

In September, the showjumper was cleared of assaulting Mr Faram. But the jury could not agree on the alleged assault on Mr Haley.

The case continues today.