A retired 73-year-old fireman arrested at a Sheffield tree-felling protest on suspicion of witness intimidation has seen the case against him dropped over “insufficient evidence”.
A video of Alan Simpson being arrested by four police officers and put in the back of a police van last month was viewed thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter.
But he has now been told he has no case to answer after being accused of spending several minutes filming a private security guard said to be a witness to an alleged assault Mr Simpson is being investigated for carrying out at a separate tree-felling protest in January.
Mr Simpson is part of a campaign against the city council’s controversial attempts to remove thousands of street trees and replace them with saplings as part of a highways maintenance contract with a company called Amey. In recent weeks, dozens of police officers and private security guards have been attending felling operations and there have been multiple arrests of campaigners.
The former firefighter said he had not filmed any guard in the manner suggested. He said he was relieved to be told this week the case was being dropped.
“I was told the reason was ‘insufficient evidence’. In other words, there was none,” he said.
He is due to answer bail on the outstanding assault allegation later this month. Mr Simpson said a bail condition imposed following his witness intimidation arrest that prevents him being on any street where Amey is working remains in place but has been partially amended so it no longer applies to the road where he lives.
He denies the assault allegation, which he says relates to an incident where security guards were trying to stop him from holding a park fence by a threatened tree when he swung round to gain balance and accidentally struck one of them on their helmet with his hand.
South Yorkshire Police has confirmed the witness intimidation investigation has been dropped. Tree-felling work is currently on hold as Amey and Sheffield Council review how it is conducted in the wake of national criticism.