‘Yellow vest’ protester denies assaulting photographer

“Yellow vest” protester James Goddard has told a court “there is no case to answer” over claims he assaulted a news photographer at an organised demonstration.

Goddard, 29, of Timperley, Altrincham, pleaded not guilty to the common assault of Joel Goodman in Manchester city centre on February 9.

Appearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, he also denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards Mr Goodman.

When asked to enter pleas, he told District Judge John Temperley: “Not guilty because there is no case to answer.”

James Goddard
James Goddard, front, denied the allegations against him and will face trial later this year (Danny Lawson/PA)

Before the hearing started he asked court staff to eject members of the press to accommodate his “family and friends” who wanted to sit in the public gallery.

He said: “I want my family and friends in and I want the press out… I don’t want scumbag journalists in here.”

Goddard then mistook a Daily Mail reporter for a BBC News correspondent who he labelled “far leftist” and requested his removal.

The hearing eventually got under way with 10 reporters in court after a uniformed police officer told Goddard there were only five seats in the public gallery for his supporters.

Two court security officers sat with the police officer behind solicitors in the courtroom.

Goddard confirmed his name and date of birth but refused to state where he lives, though he confirmed it was the same address as already supplied to the court.

James Goddard supporters
Supporters of Goddard gathered outside the court building (Danny Lawson/PA)

Asked for his nationality, Goddard replied: “English.”

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

She told the judge Mr Goodman received no injuries in the incident.

Representing himself, Goddard said he wished to challenge a part of his existing bail conditions which include not being able to enter Manchester city centre except to see a solicitor by prior written appointment.

He said the condition is preventing him from seeking employment 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.”

Judge Temperley agreed to amend the condition to prohibiting the defendant from attending any organised demonstration in Manchester city centre.

The judge also ruled there was no need for Goddard to regularly report to a police station as part of his bail conditions in relation to the allegations.

James Goddard
James Goddard had his bail conditions changed to ban him from any protest in Manchester city centre (Danny Lawson/PA)

Goddard also must not contact Mr Goodman ahead of his scheduled trial on June 25.

He was warned he will be arrested and locked up if he does not abide by his bail conditions.

Before leaving the dock, Goddard told the judge: “I wish I had you in court yesterday.”

He left the courtroom before he swiftly returned red-faced and shook the hand of the Daily Mail correspondent as he apologised for mistaking his identity.

On Tuesday, Goddard appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court where he denied a charge of harassment towards anti-Brexit Tory MP Anna Soubry by allegedly calling her a “Nazi” and a “traitor”.

He also denied a second charge at the hearing in London of racially aggravated harassment towards a police officer.

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