Taxi union boss on trial for 'assaulting' police with sound of megaphone

14 January 2020, 14:16 | Updated: 14 January 2020, 17:12

The head of a taxi union has gone on trial accused of assaulting two police officers by using a megaphone near their heads at a protest.

James Farrar denies two counts of assault after it was claimed he operated a loudhailer near Constable Ann Spinks and Sergeant James Lewis during a protest against the London congestion charge in March last year.

Prosecutor Terence Woods said the loud volume and Farrar's close proximity to the officers caused significant pain to them, calling it "reckless use" of the device and claiming it "amounted to battery".

He added: "Nobody was actually beaten during the course of the incident of that day, despite what you heard when the indictment was read out to you."

Farrar is the chairman of the United Private Hire Drivers' branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and was participating in a protest in Parliament Square against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's decision to make Uber and minicab drivers pay the congestion charge, despite exempting traditional black cabs.

Mr Woods said Farrar "used the loudhailer right by PC Lewis's head, right next to his left ear, in fact.

"As he used the loudhailer he caused PC Lewis significant pain to his ear. The police then push the defendant in with the other demonstrators.

"A short time later he does the same act very close to PC Ann Spinks, in the police liaison outfit."

Mr Woods also said both officers had pre-existing hearing conditions that had been made worse by the volume of the device. He said their injuries were "slight and transient", and cleared up after a short period.

The court heard that Farrar was in regular contact with Metropolitan Police Inspector Bruce Middlemiss, with whom he coordinated the protests.

Icah Peart QC, defending referred to the amount of noise already going on at the demonstration, and the presence of drums and air horns.

The trial continues.