Woman `charged into law office like rugby prop'

Battle of Belgravia: Solicitor denies `wild west' assault
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The Independent Online
REBECCA FOWLER

The wife of a wealthy property developer charged through the offices of her husband's solicitors like a rugby prop forward, after she was thrown out in a dispute over the deeds to their pounds 1m home, a court was told yesterday.

The drama unfolded at the offices of Child & Child in Belgravia, central London, on 28 April last year, after Laura Harold went to see Allen Chubb, a senior partner. It ended with Mr Chubb dragging her physically through the offices and casting her on to the street, her fur coat, shoes and mobile phone scattered along the way.

Mrs Harold, 32, a former beauty therapist, who said she feared for her life during the incident, has compared it to a scene from a "wild west film". She was refused copies of the papers until an alleged outstanding bill for pounds 3,500 was paid by her husband's company.

Mr Chubb, 52, told the court that after being ejected, Mrs Harold came back into the office. "She charged like a rugby prop forward, only she was small and light and in that sense wasn't, but in the way she charged down the hall that's what she was like."

Mrs Harold has brought a private prosecution accusing Mr Chubb of assault with actual bodily harm, and false imprisonment. She claims she suffered "moderately severe" bruising and grazing to many parts of her body, and needed counselling.

Mr Chubb denies the charges. He says he was legally entitled to use "reasonable force" to eject a trespasser.

The jury was told that Mrs Harold's husband, Michael, had arrived at the offices before her at 7.30am on the same day. When the office manager refused to hand over the deeds, the two men both spoke to Mr Chubb at home who contacted Scotland Yard to have Mr Harold removed.

Mr Chubb told the jury yesterday: "I knew Mr Harold was a bully, I knew he was aggressive and he'd upset our staff the previous afternoon."

At 11am, Mrs Harold arrived and was taken into an interview room by Mr Chubb, and told he would not hand over the deeds to the unmortgaged property, which were in the name of her husband's company.

Mr Chubb, a former policemen who is 6ft 3in and 141/2 stone in weight, said he asked her to leave three times, but she refused and he summoned a colleague, Justina Ridley, to help him. He told Mrs Harold, 5ft 2in and 73/4 stone, that he was legally entitled to remove her using reasonable force.

He said: "My objective was to remove her without hurting her . . . I took her right arm to move her to her seat, fairly gently but firm. As I did so she slipped from my grasp and sat on the floor on her bottom."

Accompanied by Ms Ridley, he then dragged Mrs Harold out towards the hall area. But as they approached the entrance to the offices she wrapped her leg around a desk, to prevent him from ejecting her on to the stone stairway outside.

Mr Chubb said: "It didn't take much effort to unhook her right leg . . . Ms Ridley was moving behind her. She was concentrating on telling Mrs Harold not to be so silly."

After she had been thrown out Mrs Harold came back into the reception, saying she had lost her fur coat. Mr Chubb then pushed her on to the floor and pinioned her to the ground. He said he agreed to release her when she said she would leave the premises.

Mr Chubb told the police: "I don't see how I could have used less force than I did. I talked to her in a gentle kindly way to show her I had not lost my temper, and to try and calm her down and reassure her."

But Mrs Harold has allegedly suffered depression and nightmares since the incident. She has also had problems coping with everyday life, including her two young children.

The case continues.

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