Matt Hancock will come face-to-face with man who denies assaulting him at Tube station
Ex- Health Secretary Matt Hancock will come face-to-face in court with a protester who is accused of assaulting him during a week-long campaign of harassment, as a top judge insisted: “It’s not a show trial”.
Geza Tarjanyi, 61, is accused of targeting the former Health Secretary on two days in January, including a confrontation at Westminster Tube station which was posted on Twitter.
At Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday, Tarjanyi pleaded not guilty to harassment without violence and declared: “All I wanted was to have him in court.”
But Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring warned Tarjanyi, who was representing himself, that he will not allow Hancock - the central witness in the case - to be harangued about Covid and pandemic policies.
“If you think you are going to take advantage of being in court…to put to him your concerns about his political views, I won’t allow it”, he said.
“It’s not a show trial, it’s about whether you assaulted him, and whether you caused others and him alarm and distress.
“If you come to court and cross-examine him on the basis of anything to do with policy, I’m afraid I won’t allow it.”
Tarjanyi is accused twice “barging” the MP for West Suffolk in the space of a week in January, as well as causing alarm and distress with bouts of alleged shouting.
It is said he was protesting in Whitehall on January 19 when he allegedly approached Hancock and accused him of “killing so many people” with a drug used for executions in the US.
It is said he “barged into” the MP, accused the politician of refusing to answer questions and suggested: “You and the media are all on the same side”. Tarjanyi told the court he alleges Hancock barged into him.
In the second incident at Westminster tube station on January 24, Tarjanyi is accused of pursuing Hancock on to a train and sitting next to him, while filming the encounter himself.
“You are accused of aggressively shouting ‘you murdered millions of people’ and at the same time you are alleged to have been barging him”, the judge said.
In response to the ‘barging’ claim, Tarjanyi said: “It must happen a million times a day on the underground.”
“There was no shouting but we did have a lady behind shouting.”
It is also alleged that Tarjanyi told Hancock: “I’ll keep coming for you and I will get that Sajid Javid too.”
The court heard Tarjanyi posted the ten-minute video of the incident on Twitter himself, and admitted he was the man involved when questioned by police.
During today’s hearing, Tarjanyi called Hancock and former Health Secretary Javid “traitors to the country”, prompting the judge to consider appointing an independent lawyer for the defence cross-examination of Hancock during the trial.
“I won’t let you abuse and berate”, he said. “I think you understand that the solemnity of the court is important.”
Tarjanyi’s trial was set for June 8, with a pre-trial review arranged for May 12.
Tarjanyi, who gave his sister’s home in Leyland in Lancashire as his address, was charged following a British Transport Police investigation.
He was set free on bail by the judge, on the condition he does not contact Hancock or a TfL worker involved in the second incident, and does not go within 200m of the Houses of Parliament.
A previous bail condition banning him from going within 500m of Parliament was revoked, to allow Tarjanyi to return to a protest pen in Whitehall.
Mr Hancock has faced criticism over his handling of the Covid pandemic, and was forced to resign as Health Secretary after it emerged he had broken social distancing rules during an affair with his adviser.
In a subsequent appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Hancock insisted he had broken government ‘guidance’ but not fallen foul of the Covid laws he himself signed.