EDL supporters in court over South Shields protest

Hollie Smallwood EDL

A woman is to stand trial over claims that she tried to headbutt a police officer after a protest by far-right groups in South Tyneside.

About 350 members of the English Defence League (EDL) and the North East Infidels (NEI) took part in a march through South Shields on August 31. The two groups – who claimed they were there to “protest against radical Islam’s encroachment into the lives of non-Muslims” – were met at Pier Parade by about 100 counter-protesters from South Tyneside Unites Against Fascism.

A number of people were arrested before, during and after the protest on suspicion of assault, breaching the peace, being drunk and disorderly, affray and disorderly conduct.

Hollie Smallwood [pictured] appeared before magistrates charged with resisting arrest and being drunk and disorderly. Kevin Smallcombe, defending Smallwood, of Manor Grange, Lanchester, County Durham, said she denies the allegations and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

He said: “This incident is not said to have happened during the protest itself. This is a separate matter, alleged to have happened after the protest had finished and while my client and friends were drinking outside Kirkpatrick’s in South Shields. An officer went to speak to the group and claims Miss Smallwood was drunk and being abusive. He then claims she tried to headbutt him.”

He added: “She denies both allegations and a trial will have to be arranged.” Smallwood will be back at the court on December 20 for her trial and was granted unconditional bail until then.

Of the others arrested, two were given fixed penalty notices, one was cautioned, one was released without charge and another was bound over to keep the peace. Craig Owens, 28, of Bruce Crescent, Hartlepool, will appear at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court next Thursday charged with disorderly conduct, while another man was bailed by the police until December.

Shields Gazette, 10 October 2013