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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Did Prescott get off lightly?
Britain's deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has escaped prosecution for punching a protester during the general election campaign.

Mr Prescott hit out at farmer Craig Evans after being pelted with an egg as he arrived for a speech in Rhyl, Wales.

Several punches were exchanged before the two men were separated.

The Crown Prosecution Service says neither man should face any charges for the fracas.

The incident was one of the most memorable events in an otherwise lacklustre election campaign.

Mr Prescott said at the time that he was acting in self defence. But he was criticised by the opposition for allowing himself to be provoked.

Did Prescott get off lightly? Should he have been prosecuted? Or was it right to draw a line under the incident?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Nice one John!!!

Jon Kennedy, Norway/ UK
How can anyone seriously say that Mr Prescott should have been prosecuted for defending himself? What would Craig Evans have done if Prescott threw an egg in his face??? How can he claim to be the victim in this incident??? I know what I would have done....exactly the same as Mr Prescott. Nice one John!!!
Jon Kennedy, Norway (Ex UK)

Prescott didn't get off lightly - it was self-defence. No matter who you are - people cannot hurl abuse (and eggs) at you. After all - he's just a man like the rest of us...
Stephen Lynch, Wales, UK

I can't believe that so many people are using the "us and them" scenario. The video evidence is clear, Prescott acted in a flash to an assault. It was a reaction and reasonably justified (who WOULDN'T react to an attack?). There was no pre-meditated plan, unlike Mr Evans egg throwing episode. Prescott is incredibly generous NOT to pursue civil action (and I don't particularly like the guy!).
Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

It's a shame that this was a missed opportunity to rid us all of this thoroughly nasty individual from his powerful position.
David, England

It was a natural reaction. I don't like politicians at the best of times but he had every right to retaliate. No-one has the right to throw anything at another person just because you may dislike him...
Shane Cracknell, Australia

This was just a playground scuffle and I think the CPS was correct in telling both silly little boys to grow up.
Julie, UK

Mr Prescott did not provoke this incident in any way

Mark, Scotland
Mr Prescott did not provoke this incident in any way. He was attacked very suddenly and unexpectedly. His reaction was natural and understandable. Why has it taken so long for this very minor incident to be binned? Mr Prescott should have been better protected. People are let off with more serious fights every Friday and Saturday night, why was such a fuss made about this one?
Mark, Scotland

If someone threw an egg at me, I'd punch them. Are those who say Prescott should have been prosecuted saying that they wouldn't have done so? Get real.
Chris, Australia

I mean really - who cares.
Ben, US (UK citizen)

Prescott must be happy because the last thing he wants is to be in the limelight and embarrass Blair. Anyway, what does Prescott do? Anyone know? This question was asked a week or so ago but even that has gone quiet too. He must be very powerful.
Gareth Beaumont, UK

What example does this set to school bullies?

Giles, England
The television recording of the punch was very clear - Prescott threw a pre-meditated, carefully aimed punch at a member of the public. The "John will be John" excuses at the time were bad enough, but this decision shows that those who make the laws are able to break them with impunity. What example does this set to school bullies?
Giles, England

Just to understand the CPS decision, is self-defence now a legitimate form of violence? Or are politicians above the law?
Cliff, UK

No, if anything the yob who tossed the egg at him got off easy.
Henry, USA

He obviously lacks self-control and should not be a politician if he cannot take the odd egg or two

Cameron Poe, UK
Mr Prescott should be in prison for this offence. His thuggish behaviour was far worse than the guy who threw the egg. He should know better and be able to withstand such attacks without turning into the brutal animal which he showed himself to be. He obviously lacks self-control and should not be a politician if he cannot take the odd egg or two.
Cameron Poe, UK

One law for Prescott and New Labour and another law for the public. It stinks
Jonathan Evans, Wales

John Prescott is to be congratulated. The highlight of the whole election campaign was seeing that grinning yokel get a bunch of fives.
Paul, UK

I thought Prescott's left-hander was a corker, and was justly deserved

Pete Riches, UK
I find the whole thing bizarre. In that first split second, John Prescott would not have known if he was bleeding or not. His first primal reaction would be self defence. I want to see his assailant prosecuted for assaulting this country's deputy prime minister. How dare anyone say that a man cannot defend himself against attack? What if it had been a rock, not an egg? What's the difference? I thought Prescott's left-hander was a corker, and was justly deserved.
Pete Riches, UK

Lets face it, if John Prescott had provoked Craig Evans in some way and Craig Evans had hit him, Craig Evans would have been charged with assault.
Robert Elliott, Argentina

Well, I think this serves as proof that its a matter of who you are, rather than if you did it or not!
Seth Black, UK

Perhaps it was Craig Evans who got off lightly. After all he started the fracas and continued the fight.
Gill, UK

We have one rule for them, and one for us

Liam Drew, England
We have one rule for them, and one for us. The fact that in both these cases 'the law is an ass' is not the point, the prosecution should have gone ahead to draw attention to this fact, as it is only through first hand experience of the law that people like Prescott will realise how stupid it is, and that it therefore needs changing!
Liam Drew, England

Prescott should have been prosecuted. It is basic to a democratic society that the people making the laws are just as subject to the laws made as those who don't.
John Collins, UK

I am confused as to why both parties in a violent exchange were not arrested at the scene, as is usually the case in the UK. Rather, the police judged Mr. Evans immediately, and let Mr. Prescott walk away from the incident. Looks like the police know which side their bread is buttered on - always reassuring.
Graeme Renfrew, Canada

Given the extremely hostile environment in which Mr Prescott encountered, how on earth could the CPS prosecute someone who reacted in a self defence?
Sigmund, Wales

Prescott's response was provoked. The egg-throwing was unprovoked. I hate waiting 55 minutes for the hourly bus, but if I threw eggs at Prescott for it, I would expect to be disciplined.
David de Vere Webb, England

As a public sector worker I would expect to be suspended from work if I punched someone who had startled on me by throwing something at me. I think he has got off very lightly
Elaine Smith, UK

This was retribution not self-defence

Charles Frankland, UK
This was retribution not self-defence. The verdict sets a precedent that the Friday night yob will draw comfort from.
Charles Frankland, UK

Mr Prescott certainly did not get let off lightly. In fact the months of stress and uncertainty over what action the police may take were completely unnecessary. Mr Prescott is a high-profile target for attack and should have been better protected.
Paul, England

Of course Prescott got off lightly. We can't just make exceptions for someone who's high in the Government.
Mark O'Brien, UK

Prescott didn't just get off lightly - he got off totally. It's a disgrace that a minister of the crown can be seen to get away with this level of violence.
Jeremy, England

See also:

21 May 01 | Talking Point
Did John Prescott overreact?
17 May 01 | Vote2001
Prescott 'regrets' blow
20 Sep 01 | UK Politics
No action over Prescott punch

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