Iain Duncan Smith 'feared for wife' after traffic cone was slammed on his head at Tory conference, court hears

14 November 2022, 14:43 | Updated: 14 November 2022, 15:04

Iain Duncan Smith said he feared for his wife (right)
Iain Duncan Smith said he feared for his wife (right). Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Sir Iain Duncan Smith feared for the safety of his wife when they were accosted by protesters wielding a traffic cone in the street, he told a court on Monday.

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Former Conservative leader Sir Iain told a judge how he, his wife Elizabeth and her friend were followed by a group of protesters last year, who hurled abuse at him and slammed a traffic cone onto his head.

Speaking at the trial of the three alleged attackers, Sir Iain said he was followed by the men who were making "a cacophony of sound" as they walked from the Midland hotel to the Mercure hotel in central Manchester on October 4 last year.

James O'Brien on Iain Duncan Smith

After the traffic cone attack, he turned around and told the group that they were "pathetic" before the group continued on their way to the hotel, where he was giving a speech on Brexit.

Read more: 'Unite or it's over': Iain Duncan-Smith says Tories are 'staring into the grave' and must now support Truss

The Chingford and Woodford Green MP said the protesters were "peculiarly threatening", adding that he was particularly concerned for his wife's safety.

He added that he was "frightened those with me, and myself."

Iain Duncan Smith is a strong supporter of Brexit
Iain Duncan Smith is a strong supporter of Brexit. Picture: Getty

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.”

He was giving evidence at the trial of Elliott Bovill, of no fixed address, who denies common assault.

Also on trial are 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.

The court was shown CCTV footage of the moment the traffic cone was put onto Sir Iain's head as he and the group crossed a small side road.

Sir Iain 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's wife was with him when he was attacked
Sir Iain's wife was with him when he was attacked. Picture: Getty

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.”

Read more: Sir David Amess' murderer achieved 'absolutely nothing', campaigner declares

Politicians of both major parties have been targets of extreme violence in recent years, sparking fears about the safety of all MPs.

Read more: Family of Jo Cox pay tribute five years after her murder

Conservative MP Sir David Amess was murdered in his Essex constituency last year, while Labour's Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in 2016.

MPs do not have bodyguards and most hold face-to-face meetings with constituents as part of their work locally.

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