Labour MP accused of kicking Yes campaigner goes on trial

A Labour MP has gone on trial accused of assaulting a Yes campaigner at a polling station on the day of the Scottish independence referendum.

Labour MP  Marie Rimmer leaves Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: PA
Labour MP Marie Rimmer leaves Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: PA

Marie Rimmer, 69, denies kicking Patricia McLeish and acting in a threatening or abusive manner towards her and fellow independence campaigner Dennis Ashcroft.

Giving evidence, Miss McLeish, 52, said Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, kicked her then “smirked” outside Shettleston community centre in Glasgow on 18 September 2014.

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The Unison shop steward and Glasgow city council worker told Glasgow Sheriff Court she was handing out Yes campaign leaflets at the centre entrance at about 12:30pm when Rimmer approached her twice, standing less than a foot from her face, staring at her without speaking.

Miss McLeish said: “I thought it was odd. I thought it was quite intimidating behaviour for somebody to do.

“You don’t expect that at a polling station, you don’t expect anywhere.

“In fact, you don’t expect it from an adult.”

She said Rimmer than asked her in an aggressive manner if she was a shop steward and where she worked. Miss McLeish asked where Rimmer worked and was told she was the leader of St Helens Council.

Miss McLeish said: “At this point I just disbelieved her.

“In the manner she acted before, I thought ‘this person’s seriously delusional, the leader of a council wouldn’t act in that manner’ and I decided to ignore her at that point.”

She told the court she then spoke to Rimmer’s colleague in an attempt to defuse the situation before they returned to handing out leaflets when Rimmer approached Miss McLeish again.

She said: “She came into my face again. This time she actually kicked me. It was definitely deliberate, she smirked after she did it.”

Miss McLeish said she was “in shock” and told Rimmer she was “disgusted”, and then reported it to the head of the polling station, who called the police. She said she later told the police she did not want to press charges as she believed her attacker was “mentally ill”, but they said they had a zero-tolerance policy for incidents that day.

The case has been adjourned until 12 July.