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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Sheriff ridicules minister's fear
Frank McAveety
Frank McAveety was told he should expect attention
A sheriff has ridiculed the Tourism Minister Frank McAveety as he cleared two anti-war protestors of terrorising him in the street.

Mr McAveety said he had felt the "worst intimidation in his life" while canvassing on Glasgow's south-side.

Sheriff Graeme Warner said the Labour MSP "must live a very sheltered life".

School teacher Nicola Fisher, 32, was found not guilty and John Harper, 33, not proven of causing a breach of the peace and harassing Mr McAveety.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the incident took place in the Govanhill area of the city last April.

Sheriff Warner said the Labour MSP had "completely blown his credibility" by claiming intimidation.

If this was the most frightening thing he has experienced in his career then he must live a very sheltered life
Sheriff Graeme Warner
The sheriff went on: "Frank McAveety's evidence of events was all over the place and it is fair to say he over-egged the pudding.

"If this was the most frightening thing he has experienced in his career then he must live a very sheltered life.

"I could understand it more if he lived in some sort of tyranny, but that is hardly the case.

"It is naive and unrealistic of a cabinet minister to think he cannot attract attention on the streets, especially at a time when a war is ongoing."

The court had heard the MSP was on the streets helping Labour candidate Anne-Marie Millar's push for the Govanhill council seat.

Mr McAveety said he soon became aware of a gang edging towards them, who he claimed swore, became aggressive and surrounded the pair.

'Fair game'

He said they yelled about the war in Iraq and the recent controversial closure of a local swimming baths.

The Glasgow Shettleston MSP told the court Ms Fisher was "central" in the incident.

His colleague Ms Millar said she was pinned against a wall by the group and had election leaflets ripped from her hands.

Both accused admitted speaking to the pair that evening, but denied acting in a disorderly manner.

If politicians do not like what they face perhaps they should consider resigning
Aamer Anwar
Lawyer
They claimed Mr McAveety had been "in your face" and "threatening".

Ms Fisher said: "We only put it to him was he not horrified what was going on in Iraq and that by his party helping shut the swimming baths? It had left a lot of people unhappy."

Sheriff Warner said he deemed the group's comments to Mr McAveety as "fair game".

He added: "Surely in the society that we live in one can express such views to a politicians."

Supporters of Ms Fisher, of Calder Street, Govanhill, and Mr Harper, of Alexandra Parade, Dennistoun, applauded as they were acquitted.

Ms Fisher's lawyer Aamer Anwar said afterwards: "If politicians do not like what they face perhaps they should consider resigning.

"The court's verdict has been a lesson in democracy that they should reflect upon."


SEE ALSO:
Teacher denies swearing incident
04 May 04  |  Scotland


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