A local newspaper publisher has had a conviction for assault overturned by a Crown Court judge.
Danny Lockwood, publisher of The Press newspaper in West Yorkshire, was originally found guilty of assault in February after a trial at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court and ordered to carry out 150 hours community service.
Student Liam Ellis had claimed he was headbutted and punched by Mr Lockwood following a row in a Dewsbury pub about the content of his newspapers.
But Judge James Spencer QC overturned the conviction at Leeds Crown Court, saying Mr Lockwood acted entirely lawfully and in self-defence.
The row erupted after 24-year-old Mr Ellis began a conversation with Mr Lockwood at the Fox and Hounds pub in Dewsbury in April 2013, during which Mr Ellis described the paper’s content as “discriminatory.”
Mr Lockwood, 55, of Elvington, York, told the court: “I tried to laugh it off and reason with him. But he just kept ramping it up, so I finished my drink and left.”
After leaving the pub, Mr Lockwood said he stood outside and paused momentarily to take a few deep breaths, when Mr Ellis himself ame out of the pub and came towards him.
He admitted punching the younger man and forcing him back into the pub porch, but claimed he had do so because he thought himself in danger of imminent attack.
Summing up, Judge Spencer reminded the court that this was a criminal case and the burden of proof rested on the prosecution.
“It is not for the appellant to prove he was acting in self defence,” he said.
Judge Spencer said it was reasonable to believe that Mr Lockwood thought he was in danger of “imminent attack” when he saw Mr Ellis.
“We are also satisfied so that we can be sure that there was no deliberate headbutt. In all the circumstances … we feel that it is entirely reasonable for him to have perceived to have been in danger. And therefore his reaction was reasonable and lawful.”