Enraged MP 'punched man with full force'

Ian Herbert,North
Friday 10 January 2014 04:56

A Labour MP was "purple in the face with rage" when he punched a constituent during a row in an Indian restaurant, a court was told yesterday.

Ronnie Campbell, 58, a former miner who represents Blyth Valley in Northumberland, put his full force into a punch that knocked Graeme Gillespie off his chair and bloodied his nose at the Pan Ahar restaurant in Blyth in June last year, the lawyer for the prosecution alleged.

Mr Campbell denies common assault and a charge of harassment relating to an incident in which he allegedly "lost it" after Mr Gillespie's female companion, Denise Longman, subjected him to 20 minutes of verbal abuse.

Mr Gillespie had drunk nine pints and two bottles of lager before the tirade that prompted the Mr Campbell's son Aidan to remonstrate. Ms Longman, who is in her thirties, allegedly shouted: "Who the hell do you think you are? You should pay for your meal like everyone else" to Mr Campbell, to which he returned abusive remarks.

At South-east Northumberland magistrates' court, Lawrence Sherington, for the prosecution, said that Mr Campbell had struck Mr Gillespie once on the left side of his face. Mr Gillespie said that since the incident he had suffered headaches, nose-bleeds and numbness to the face.

Cross-examined by Christopher Knox, for the defence, Mr Gillespie denied having sold his story to the media but agreed that he had received £500 after posing for a photograph after the incident.

"You saw this whole exercise as an opportunity to make some cash," Mr Knox said: "You were really very drunk that night. I suggest you have got very little true recollection of what happened." Mr Gillespie replied: "I know exactly what happened." The case is expected to finish today.