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Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Prescott's thanks over punch
John Prescott
Mr Prescott could still face charges.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has thanked the public for backing him over the punch that shook the election.

Speaking on BBC1's Breakfast with Frost on Sunday, Mr Prescott said: "I think the public let (us) know what its view was, which was entirely different from certain elements of the media.

"I would like to say thank you very much to public opinion."

The incident happened a week into the campaign at a rally in North Wales, when an angry protester threw an egg at Mr Prescott at close range.

Mr Prescott lashed out with his fist and a scuffle broke out, before the egg-thrower was arrested and taken away by police.

Jokes

At the time, Labour strategists were horrified that the punch would distract attention from the party's manifesto, launched earlier in the day.

But Labour made light of it, with the prime minister cracking jokes about the scrap at the following morning's news conference.

The opposition parties were wary of coming down hard on Mr Prescott, partly because MPs of all parties are vulnerable to similar attacks.
Craig Evans
Farm worker Craig Evans threw an egg at Mr Prescott.

And concerns were expressed that security for senior politicians travelling around the country was inadequate.

Although some parts of the media were more hostile, it soon became clear that the deputy prime minister had got away with it.

Opinion polls indicated that a majority of voters thought Mr Prescott was right to have reacted as he did.

The punch has since been cited as the most exciting event of the four-week long campaign.

But the story is not entirely over yet.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident, and Mr Prescott could still face charges.

The protester who was punched, farm worker Craig Evans, has also been considering taking private legal action himself.

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