A council lawyer who attacked a reporter and smashed his camera has been given a conditional discharge.
St Albans Crown Court was told how Andy Darkoh left Bedfordshire on Sunday reporter Oliver Adam needing five stitches to his head after knocking him to the ground and hitting him in the face after a county court appointment.
The lawyer, who works for Bedford Borough Council, was at court on personal business, and upset that the journalist had tried to photograph him.
But Judge Findlay Baker QC said: “Taking a photograph does not amount to an invasion of privacy. It might, in certain circumstances, amount to harassment.”
He passed a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered payment of £200 compensation and £150 costs.
The judge told him: “I don’t doubt you felt aggrieved at the treatment you had been receiving from Bedfordshire On Sunday, but that cannot excuse you damaging a camera of one of its journalists or being reckless about causing injury.”
The paper was running a story about Darkoh’s attempt to bring a county court action against a pub for alleged racial discrimination.
Darkoh, of Higham Ferrers, Northants, admitted causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.
The court was also told there was “a history” to the incident. The newspaper had previously made claims of maladministration at a local election with some votes not being counted – and council officers, including Darkoh, had lost a defamation case against Bedfordshire On Sunday over the story.
On the day of the incident, in June, the reporter contacted the Town Hall asking for comments about the private action Darkoh was taking against the pub, which the lawyer felt was an unjustified intrusion into his private affairs.
Tamala McGee, defending, said her client deeply regretted the incident.
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