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Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman pleads not guilty to assault charge at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court
A former Barnet Mayor today pleaded not guilty to assaulting a member of the public as she took photographs of his illegally parked car.
Totteridge representative Brian Coleman allegedly attacked café owner Helen Michael as she snapped the shots on her camera phone in North Finchley High Road on September 20.
Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court heard this morning that the former GLA member then tried to flee the scene but Mrs Michael jumped into the front seat of his car, and another man opened a rear door, as he drove away.
Mr Coleman, who was suspended from the national Conservative party last week over the allegations, subsequently clipped a parked van in the melee and was later arrested by police.
Former cabinet member Councillor Coleman claims he was attacked first and that he was in fear for his safety when he drove away from the scene.
The former head of the London Fire Authority appeared in court this morning to face charges of assault by beating and driving without reasonable care.
Wearing a pin stripe suit and light blue tie, he spoke only to confirm his name and that he understood the charges, before pleading not guilty to both.
Jessica Deuchar, for the prosecution, confirmed CCTV evidence would be used in the case and that three witnesses will be called by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Describing the prosecution’s view of the incident, she said: “He forced her back whilst continuing to hold onto her wrists. He then got into his car and, as she tried to stop him and while she was on the phone to police, she got into his car. He then drove off before the door was shut and hit a parked van.”
Nigel Richardson, representing Mr Coleman, told District Judge Deborah Wright that his client was attacked by Mrs Michael as he tried to stop the photographs being taken.
He said: “My client accepts that he was present and that there was an incident. He was trying to stop her taking photos of him and he does accept that he then drove off a short distance.
“There was physical contact between them but only after she confronted him. She was in his car, he told her to get out – he was in fear for his personal safety because two people were trying to open his car doors and therefore he drove off.”
A four-hour trial has been scheduled at 10am, on February 6, in Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.
Mr Coleman was released on unconditional until the hearing but advised by District Judge Wright to avoid contacting Helen Michael or visiting her café until the trial.