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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Minister 'shocked' after protest
Margaret Hodge
Margaret Hodge was left in the handcuffs for 40 minutes
Former children's minister Margaret Hodge has told a jury she was "shocked and distressed" after being handcuffed by two fathers' rights protesters.

Ms Hodge told Manchester Crown Court she was "completely taken aback" after the ambush at a Law Society conference at The Lowry Hotel in Salford 2004.

Jason Hatch, 35, of Cheltenham, and Jonathan Stanesby, 41, of Ivybridge, Devon, deny false imprisonment.

Both were members of the group Fathers 4 Justice.

Ms Hodge, now culture minister, was handcuffed to Mr Stanesby for 20 minutes and had to be freed with bolt cutters in what she described as a "cold and calculated attack".

She told the court she had given her speech to 200 lawyers at the event and sat down when she noticed two men entering the conference room to her left.

One of them shouted something like, 'Margaret Hodge, I am arresting you for child abuse'
Margaret Hodge

"I thought they looked a bit odd," she told the jury.

"They had ill-fitting suits on and did not look like lawyers. They walked in a few paces, they then rushed at me, one grabbed each arm.

"One of them shouted something like, 'Margaret Hodge, I am arresting you for child abuse'.

"That was the start of the scuffle."

The court has previously heard how Mr Hatch was grabbed by a security guard but managed to get free and leave the conference, dropping his handcuffs on the way.

'Taken aback'

"The man on my left, who still had hold of my arm, I was aware he took a handcuff out and put it around my arm," she said.

"I then realised I was handcuffed to the other man.

"I was obviously completely taken aback. I did have a pain on my wrist for about six months afterwards."

The MP for Barking said a police officer tried to free her with a key but the locks had been glued, before a bolt cutter was used.

Ms Hodge added: "I was really shocked and distressed and did not really know what to do next.

"I was 60 at the time it happened and not only I think is it awful for a 60-year-old woman to be attacked in that way, also because in a free and open democracy if we are to protect and maintain that democracy people who are elected representatives must feel able to go about their business without fear of being physically assaulted.

"I was upset and I was very disturbed by that incident."


SEE ALSO
Two in court over handcuffed MP
05 Feb 07 |  Manchester

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