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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK

UK: Wales

Richards bailed on GBH charge

Former Welsh Tory leader Rod Richards has denied GBH charge

The former leader of the Conservatives in Wales, Rod Richards, has appeared before magistrates to face a charge of assaulting a 22-year-old woman.

Richmond Magistrates Court in south west London heard that Mr Richards was charged with unlawfully causing grievous bodily harm to Cassandra Melvin.

BBC Wales's Caroline Evans reports on the court hearing
He was granted bail to reappear on September 29 on condition he does not interfere with witnesses or contact Cassandra and Tiffany Melvin.

Mr Richards did not say anything during the eight-minute hearing.

Following the hearing, Mr Richards' solicitor George Keppe said his client would be pleading not guilty and "vigorously" defending against the charge.

"No further comment can be made," said Mr Keppe.

"I am sure you will understand he is not in the mood to give a this moment in time."

Mr Richards, the Assembly Member for North Wales, resigned as leader of the Tories in the National Assembly after he was arrested in connection with the complaint of GBH in London in July.

It is alleged that 52-year-old Mr Richards grabbed a woman by the arm, causing her to hit her elbow on a parked car and suffer a fracture.

Leadership resignation

The former MP for Clwyd West and junior Welsh Office minister - who vehemently denies the assault accusation - initially stepped down from his leadership post temporarily at the beginning of August.

He had chosen 29-year-old Monmouth Assembly Member David Davies as his deputy leader.

It was a selection which was then rejected by the other Tory AMs, who thought Mr Davies too inexperienced.

In response to that rejection, Mr Richards announced on August 10 that he was to make his resignation permanent.

He has since been replaced as Assembly Tory leader by Professor Nick Bourne.

Mr Bourne had previously challenged Mr Richards for the leadership of the Conservatives in Wales, losing to him in a ballot of the members.

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