Manchester

Pro-Brexit activist denies photographer assault

James Goddard arriving at Manchester Magistrates" Court Image copyright PA
Image caption James Goddard denied common assault when he appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court

A pro-Brexit activist has denied assaulting a news photographer at a demonstration.

James Goddard, 29, pleaded not guilty to the common assault of Joel Goodman when he appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court.

The attack is said to have taken place in Manchester on 9 February.

Mr Goddard, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, also denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards Mr Goodman.

Before the court hearing began, Mr Goddard told a court official he wanted journalists removed from the court to accommodate his "family and friends" who wanted to sit in the public gallery.

He said: "I don't want scumbag journalists in here."

'Demonised'

Mr Goddard then mistook a Daily Mail reporter for a BBC News correspondent, who he labelled "far leftist", and requested his removal.

The hearing eventually began with 10 reporters in court.

When asked to enter pleas, Mr Goddard told District Judge John Temperley: "Not guilty because there is no case to answer."

He said he did not want to give his address whilst journalists were in the court.

In the dock, Mr Goddard said the charges against him were "trumped up" and a "political decision".

He told the court he was being "treated worse than a rapist or a terrorist", adding he had been "demonised by the state".

As part of his bail conditions, Mr Goddard must not contact Mr Goodman or attend any organised demonstration in Manchester city centre.

His trial is scheduled to start on 25 June.

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