Yellow vest protester denies assaulting Manchester Evening News photographer

Simon Austin's picture
James Goddard

Yellow vest protester James Goddard has denied assaulting a Manchester Evening photographer at a demonstration last month.

The 29-year-old, of Timperley, pleaded not guilty to the common assault of freelancer Joel Goodman, who was working for the MEN on the day in question.

Goddard, who was representing himself at Manchester Magistrates' Court, also denied a public order offence of using threatening or abusive language at the protest in Piccadilly Gardens on 9 February.

He said his arrest had been a "political decision" and there was "no case to answer".

Before the hearing started, Goddard asked court staff to eject members of the media to accommodate his family and friends.

"I want my family and friends in and I want the press out - I don't want scumbag journalists in here,” he said.

A uniformed police officer told Goddard there were only five seats available for his supporters, and the hearing eventually got under way with 10 reporters in court.

Prosecutor Laura Keegan told the court the Crown would rely on the evidence of the complainant and two clips from his bodycam footage, which lasted two-and-a-half minutes.

Goddard said he wished to challenge a part of his existing bail conditions which prevent him from entering Manchester city centre except to see a solicitor by prior written appointment.

He said it meant he was unable to find work and that he was being "treated worse than a rapist or a terrorist".

He told the judge: "I want to contribute to society instead of being demonised by the state."

District Judge John Temperley agreed to amend the restriction to prohibiting Goddard from attending any organised demonstration in Manchester city centre.

During Wednesday's proceedings, Goddard also mistook a Daily Mail reporter for a BBC News correspondent who he labelled "far leftist" and asked for him to be removed from the courtroom. The judge told him he would go on trial on 25 June over the alleged incident.

At the end the hearing the defendant left the courtroom, but returned to shake the hand of the tabloid journalist and apologised for mistaking his identity.

Goddard’s bail conditions had prohibited him from Manchester city centre, from within the M25, and from the Nottinghamshire constituency of the former Conservative MP Anna Soubry after he was arrested for heckling her with “Soubry is a Nazi” outside parliament in January.

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