Referendum Assault Case Collapses

The case against an MP accused of kicking a Yes campaigner on the day of the Scottish independence referendum has collapsed because the word Glasgow was not included in court papers outlining the charge.

Labour MP Marie Rimmer had been accused of assaulting Patricia McLeish at the entrance to Shettleston community centre, Amulree Street, then being used as a polling station, and kicking her on the body.

The 68-year-old former council leader from St Helens, Merseyside, denied the charge and appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court today for the trial.

The case started briefly before being halted when the prosecutor noticed that the word Glasgow was not included on the document known as a complaint outlining the charge.

Depute Fiscal Adele MacDonald said that her research on the internet showed that there was only one Shettleston in Scotland, and that is the area in the east end of Glasgow.

However, Liam Ewing, defending Ms Rimmer, asked Sheriff Brian Adair to dismiss the complaint.

He said: "The locus of a complaint is one of the fundamentals of a summary complaint."

After a 40-minute adjournment, Sheriff Adair ruled that the case was dismissed due to the lack of location in the charge.

He said: "I determine that the complaint is fundamentally nil and is dismissed."

He told Ms Rimmer: "You're free to go."

The initial charge read: "On September 18 2014 at the entrance to Shettleston community centre, Amulree Sttreet, then being used as a polling station you did assault Patricia McLeish and did kick her on the body."

Earlier the court heard from first witness Ms McLeish, 51, a local government officer, who described how Ms Rimmer allegedly approached her while she was handing out Yes campaign leaflets outside Shettleston community centre.

She told the court that Ms Rimmer, who was wearing a red and yellow t-shirt and appeared to be from the Better Together campaign, twice came up very close into her face.

On the second occasion, she said Ms Rimmer came into her face in a "right intimidating manner" and asked "are you a shop steward?"

Ms Rimmer then allegedly asked where Miss McLeish worked and said that she herself was leader of Saint Helen's Council, the court heard.

At the time Ms Rimmer was a Labour candidate and is now MP for St Helens South and Whiston.

Miss McLeish said: "At that I disbelieved it because I thought the manner she had approached me and her tone of voice was not akin to something like a leader of a council."

She alleged that later Ms Rimmer came up and kicked her.

The witness told the court: "She came into my face again, right up and invaded my personal space, really close, something that normally doesn't happen. Then she kicked me on the left shin."

Asked whether it could have been an accident, she replied: "Definitely not because she smirked after it happened and the manner leading up to the event, it was not an accident."

She said she then reported the incident to the presiding officer.

Mr Ewing did not have the opportunity to cross-examine Miss McLeish as the case then collapsed.

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