Councillor’s relief after assault case thrown out

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A veteran councillor has spoken of his relief after being cleared by a Judge on an assault charge.

Coun Bryan Pearson, 81, chief whip of the Conservative Group on East Riding Council, said he had suffered “nine months of purgatory” and a legal battle costing over £4,500, after being acquitted by District Judge Daniel Curtis at Scunthorpe magistrates court.

The court was told he and Labour campaigner George McManus, a former Mayor of Pocklington, clashed after Coun Pearson was spotted cutting down election posters in Toll Gavel, Beverley in the run up to the General Election.

Mr McManus claimed Coun Pearson attempted to headbutt him, but instead struck his shoulder a “glancing blow” and he then slapped him on the arm as if “swatting a fly.”

Despite rating the force used as two out of 10, he rang 999, claiming in court he “was in fear someone would be seriously hurt.”

After four other prosecution witnesses gave evidence, Coun Pearson’s solicitor Bill Waddington invited the Judge to find no case to answer as “not one single piece of testament matches what the others have said.”

Judge Curtis agreed, saying the evidence was “inconsistent” and there had been five “very different accounts.” He said Mr McManus had appeared to exonerate the councillor in his own evidence, by saying Coun Pearson had appeared to stumble in course of the alleged headbutt.

And he also questioned why minutes after the 999 call all was back to normality, with both sides continuing to canvas passers-by.

Afterwards Coun Pearson said: “I have had to suffer nine months of sleepless nights and these people walk away. What happened was I took the posters down, I wanted to give them back and then they invented this story.”

The councillor of 40 years accused his opponent of trying to discredit him and the Conservative Party ahead of the Election, adding: “That fortunately did not happen.”

Council leader Coun Steve Parnaby who accompanied Coun Pearson said: “If Bryan had not been a local councillor and a high-profile figure there is no way we would have been in Scunthorpe today. It is a shocking inditement on the system and how the police operate.”