We have previously followed the perils of the press (here), but this videotape shows how reporters can be attacked for simply walking around with a cameraman. Paresh Patel was attacked by drunken thugs in Manchester. What is astonishing is that neither John Nugent, 22, nor David Neville McKenna, 27, will spend time in jail for the unprovoked attack.
Fortunately, Patel is a black belt in karate. I am completely baffled by the response of the court to the attack on a member of the media in the course of covering a story.
Nugent and McKenna confessed to charges of affray and common assault. Since the crime of “affray” is a bit novel for American lawyers, here is the provision under section 3 of the Public Order Act 1986:
1. A person is guilty of affray if he uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and the person’s conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety.
2. Where two or more persons use or threaten the unlawful violence, it is the conduct of them taken together that must be considered for the purpose of subsection (1)
3. For the purposes of this section a threat cannot be made by the use of words alone.
4. No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene.
5. Affray may be committed in private as well as in public places.
You can be put away for three years for affray and Judge David Hernandez denounced the men as “drunken louts” but then spared them any jail.
Hernandez added: “He defended himself, he delivered a blow. I say good for Mr Patel. He had no reason to be subjected to that level of abuse and threat by you.” Well Pip Pip, Mr. Patel, and its probation for the people who attacked you.
Also sentenced was Jodie Anderson, 26, who was handed a six-week suspended sentence and 12-month supervision order. She threw a pint at Patel, who was simply trying to do a story on gay computer pioneer Alan Turing — recently given a posthumous apology by Gordon Brown.
McKenna received 18-month community and supervision order, an alcohol education programme and 140 hours’ unpaid work for common assault, affray and vandalism.
Nugent was so drunk after a funeral that he could not remember anything. When he attacked Patel he was out on a theft charge, but he was still given only an intensive alternative-to-custody order for 18 months plus supervision, ordered to attend an anger-management programme and given unpaid work for 80 hours.
The question is who is “affray” of justice when you can attack a reporter on video and just get probation?
The dangers of such thugs are well known to reporters who attract crowds the minute a camera light goes on. This was the case a couple years ago in Australia:
For the English story, click here.