London

PC claims megaphone left her 'with ringing in ear'

James Farrar Image copyright PA Media
Image caption James Farrar is expected to argue that sound waves do not count as physical force and therefore the use of the megaphone could not be assault by beating

A police officer told a court she was left with ringing in her ear "like a fire alarm going off" after a protester pointed a megaphone at her.

Taxi union boss James Farrar denies two counts of assault by beating by using a megaphone near two officers during a protest over London congestion charges.

PC Ann Spinks told Southwark Crown Court Mr Farrar "blasted" his voice into her left ear, causing tinnitus for several days.

She said her ear went "bright red".

Mr Farrar, 51, who is chairman of the United Private Drivers' branch of the IWGB union, had organised the protest in Parliament Square on 4 March, the court heard.

The demonstration was against Transport for London (TfL) plans to exempt black cabs from the congestion charge but enforce it for Uber and minicab drivers.

The court was told Metropolitan Police officers wearing body cameras - including Sgt James Lewis and Ms Spinks - were told to enter the main body of the protest after some demonstrators climbed on to a flatbed truck.

Mr Farrar, from Bordon, Hampshire, had been told not to use the megaphone at ear level before to the alleged assault after an incident involving Mr Lewis, the trial heard.

However, Ms Spinks told the jury Mr Farrar continued shouting through his megaphone, which was about a foot away from her head.

'Hot to touch'

She said she told another officer at the time: "[Mr Farrar] had blasted the megaphone into my left ear causing ringing, tinnitus, like a fire alarm going off in your ear."

"My ear at that time had gone bright red and was quite hot to touch," she added.

Although no physical beating took place, the prosecution alleges there was an "unlawful application of force".

Jurors were later shown footage of Ms Spinks standing next to Mr Farrar using the megaphone after he had been asked to lower it from ear level.

Icah Peart QC, defending, said: "There was no concern on your face at how he was using his megaphone. You couldn't be much closer to him, could you?

"It's always going to be at ear level because it's going to be at mouth level," he added.

Jurors were told Ms Spinks, who had been diagnosed with a hearing problem several decades ago, wore double hearing aids.

Mr Peart said: "During that protest, there were all manner of equipment deployed to make noise.

"That's what the demonstration was like, a loud rock concert. You can't attribute the ringing in your ear simply because you've chosen to stand in front of Mr Farrar's megaphone."

"Not specifically, no," Pc Spinks replied.

Mr Farrar is expected to argue that sound waves do not count as physical force and therefore the use of the megaphone could not be assault by beating.

The trial continues.

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