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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
Halford cleared of cabbie attack
Alison Halford AM
Ms Halford was charged following a row over her dog
Welsh Assembly Member Alison Halford has been cleared of assaulting a taxi driver who said her dog could not ride in his car.

Once the highest-ranking female police officer in the UK, the member for Delyn was charged with common assault and threatening behavior against Martin Blake after an incident outside her home in January.


It's been so painful and the taxpayer has had to pay so much

Alison Halford AM
But, after a two-day trial at Wrexham Magistrates Court, Ms Halford was found not guilty of both charges.

As she left the court, she said the verdict was the "right decision" and that she was "looking forward" to putting events behind her.

She had vigorously denied the charges, telling the court she had sworn once at Martin Blake, but that he had appeared to lose control.

She said the Avacar driver was angry and aggressive.

"I was put in fear, which is the reason I started to blub," she told magistrates, claiming that Mr Blake moved to within inches from her face.

Leaving the court, she said: "I'm sorry that it's taken so long. It's been so painful and the taxpayer has had to pay so much.

"I have been assaulted once or twice but never in that frightening and confrontational way.

"I have heard the evidence and I am happy with the verdict."

Assault charge

Former Merseyside Police assistant chief constable Ms Halford, 61, was charged following the alleged night-time incident at Prospect Close in Ewloe, Flintshire on 7 January.

The Labour AM was accused of striking driver Martin Blake on his ear and shoulder before kicking out at his car.

According to the assembly member, the driver had gone to the house to collect Ms Halford's friend, June Jefferies, who had been enjoying a meal at the house, at around 2310hrs.

The pair had a gin and tonic each and shared a bottle of wine, but Ms Halford told the court she was not drunk.

Chairman of the bench Mr Malcolm Taylor said they did not believe the evidence of Mr Blake but preferred that of Ms Jefferies.

National Assembly for Wales
Ms Halford is the Assembly Member for Delyn
At a hearing on 3 August, barrister Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, said Mr Blake pointed out a no-dog rule when Ms Halford tried to pass her pet Fudge to her friend in the back seat of the K-reg Cavalier.

The dog was to stay the night at Ms Jeffries house.

Three times Ms Halford asked for the pet to be allowed in, and each time the driver got more aggressive, she said.

She claimed she realised she was wasting her time and, before turning round to go into her home, swore once at Mr Blake.

'Barrage of abuse'

Ms Pritchard told magistrates that she hurled a "barrage of abuse" at the cabbie.

The politician had pleaded not guilty to the charge of common assault and to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

Mr Blake had told the court he had never heard anyone "string so many swear words tog.

I was put in fear, which is the reason I started to blub

Alison Halford AM

But Debra Gould, defending, suggested that Mr Blake had been rude and curt in imposing the no-dog rule.

Ms Halford, who rose to prominence in the police force after successfully pursuing a sexual discrimination case against Merseyside Police, denies any wrongdoing.

In 1997, she won a phone-tapping case against the home secretary and the government in the European Court of Human Rights, which forced a review of UK laws.

In 2001, she called for a pay rise for assembly members. In July, members votes themselves a 1,500 rise.

Mr Blake said he was disappointed when he left the court.

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