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The BBC's political correspondent Nicholas Jones
assesses the impact of John Prescott's punch
 real 56k

Richard Burge Chief Executive Countryside Alliance
"We didn't set anyone up to do any sort of protest"
 real 56k

Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 10:24 GMT
Egg protester warns: I'll sue
Craig Evans and his girlfriend Gwen Edwards
Craig Evans says he regrets throwing an egg
The man involved in a brawl with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has said he will bring a private prosecution against him if he is charged over the incident.

Mr Prescott was captured on camera apparently throwing a punch at 29-year-old Craig Evans at the seaside town of Rhyl on Wednesday.

Mr Evans has been besieged with offers of up to 50,000 to fund civil proceedings against the politician, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Suddenly I was being attacked by the second most powerful man in Britain

Craig Evans
His solicitors have reportedly said they will take up the offers if Mr Evans is charged and Mr Prescott is not.

The farm worker, who threw an egg at the deputy prime minister before the scuffle broke out, was arrested and has been released on police bail until the middle of June while inquiries continue.

Mr Prescott has also been questioned by North Wales police about the incident, which he has described as "regrettable".

He reportedly believes he was "set up" by rural activists and the media and, backed by the Labour Party, insists he acted out of self-defence, not anger.

But the Mail on Sunday's article quotes Mr Evans, who is from Denbigh, as saying that he saw a "mad glint" in the politician's eyes during the brawl.

'Boiling rage'

"He was boiling with rage," he reportedly said.

"He didn't hit me in self-defence, or because he was scared. He hit me because he was angry. It was pure anger.

"I saw it coming and rode the punch - but it connected and it hurt. Hell, I hadn't been in a fight since the school playground, and suddenly I was being attacked by the second most powerful man in Britain."

He reportedly told the paper that the bloodied nose and bruising he suffered in the brawl were serious enough for a police surgeon to be called in to take a look at him.

John Prescott
John Prescott has been interviewed by police
According to the article Mr Evans regrets throwing the egg but did it to protest at what he sees as the erosion of rural life.

"We in the countryside feel excluded and alienated from the process of democracy and politics," he reportedly said.

"People out here want to work hard and make a decent living. We're easy going folk but the government take advantage of us and won't listen."

He does not want to be seen as a hero or see Mr Prescott sacked but does want fair treatment, said the paper.

"He should have been questioned there and then just like me, had his belt and tie taken away without preferential treatment," he reportedly said.

"That's the principle of British justice isn't it? Or maybe I am being naive. In this country, all men are equal before the law"

Mr Prescott has told colleagues broadcasters were "tipped off" by pro-hunt protesters, according to the Independent on Sunday, which also links Mr Evans to the Countryside Alliance.

However, CA chief executive Richard Burge - who denied Mr Evans was a member of the rural campaigning organisation - denied there was collusion.

"We didn't set anyone up to do any sort of protest. The first I heard about it was seeing it on the TV with everyone else," he told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost.

Mr Prescott should have engaged with the protesters in Rhyl and not attempted to "storm past people with a grin", Mr Burge added.


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