Iain Duncan Smith feared for his wife over traffic cone incident, court told

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has told a court how he feared for his wife and her friend when he had a traffic cone “slammed” on to his head as they were followed by a “threatening” group of protesters hurling abuse at him.

Sir Iain told a district judge how he was subjected to a “cacophony of sound”, a banging drum, abuse and insults, as he walked from the Midland Hotel to the Mercure Hotel, in Manchester city centre, on October 4, 2021, during the Conservative Party conference, with his wife Betsy and one of her friends.

The MP, 68, said he turned round after the cone was “smacked down” on his head and told the group “you are pathetic”, before his party went to the Mercure, where he was due to speak at a fringe meeting about Brexit and other matters.

He said he felt the protesters were “peculiarly threatening” and described how he was particularly concerned for the safety of his wife and her friend, Primrose Yorke.

The politician said the protesters “frightened those with me, and myself”.

It was threatening, it was abusive and my wife and her friend felt that particularly

Sir Iain Duncan Smith

He told Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday: “I have seen a lot of protests in the course of my time as a politician.

“I’m normally not overly concerned.

People normally make their points, but not in a threatening way.

“This, I felt, was threatening, it’s as simple as that. I think they set out to be threatening.”

Sir Iain told the court: “It was threatening, it was abusive and my wife and her friend felt that particularly.”

The MP was giving evidence at the trial of Elliot Bovill, 32, of no fixed address, who denies common assault.

Bovill is on trial with Radical Haslam, 29, from Manchester, and Ruth Wood, 52, from Cambridge, who both deny using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Sir Iain gave his evidence in the small, modern courtroom wearing a dark suit over a white shirt with a Brigade of Guards tie. He was sporting a poppy on his lapel alongside a ribbon in support of Ukraine.

The court was shown CCTV footage of the moment the cone was put on Sir Iain’s head as his party crossed a small side road.

The former cabinet minister described the moment “I got a traffic cone slammed on to my head”.

He said: “I got three-quarters of the way across and I felt this blow on the back of my head and neck.

“I could feel something going on to it which knocked my head forward.”

Sir Iain said he took the cone off his head and turned round.

He told the court: “I didn’t know who had done it. ‘You are pathetic’, I said, and I dropped the cone.”

Sir Iain said: “It had been smacked down on my head quite hard.

“They are proper traffic cones and have to weigh a certain amount.”