Man denies attacking Sir Iain Duncan Smith with traffic cone

Elliot Bovill, 31, allegedly attacked the 68-year-old during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester

Joe Middleton
Monday 16 May 2022 15:44
<p>Elliot Bovill allegedly assaulted Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) at the Tory conference in Manchester </p>

Elliot Bovill allegedly assaulted Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) at the Tory conference in Manchester

A man has denied assaulting former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith by putting a traffic cone on his head at the Conservative Party conference.

The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green was followed by protesters after he left his hotel with his wife Betsy and a friend in Manchester on 4 October last year.

Elliot Bovill, 31, approached the former Tory leader with a traffic cone which he placed on his head, before running away, prosecutor Sudara Weerasena told Westminster Magistrates Court.

Bovill, from Manchester, appeared in the dock, where he pleaded not guilty to a single count of assault by beating.

He faces a two-day trial alongside Radical Haslam, 28, from Manchester, and Ruth Wood, 50, from Cambridge.

Haslam is accused of hurling expletives at the former work and pensions secretary. And Wood is said to have told the former Tory leader to “f**k off out of Manchester” and called him a “c***”.

Haslam and Wood both denied one count of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause Mr Duncan Smith serious alarm, harassment or distress.

Haslam’s lawyer Katrina Walcott said her client is expected to defend himself by saying he has a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring said Sir Iain, who led the Tory party between 2001 and 2003, would likely be required to give evidence at the trial, which will be held in Manchester.

He added: “I am not trying the politics of this at all.

“I am trying whether they have committed the criminality they are alleged to have committed.”

All three defendants were granted unconditional bail and were told they are not required to attend the next hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where a trial date will be fixed.

Following the incident last year, Sir Iain told The Spectator magazine he was struck on the back of the head with a traffic cone as he headed to a fringe event, while a friend said he escaped without injury.

Additional reporting by agencies

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