Ten suspected right-wing extremists have appeared in court charged with violence
The men, from across Tyneside, are accused of attacking doormen at the Tyneside Irish Centre during a rival political meeting. The alleged attack is said to have happened on September 22 last year, when the left-wing Socialist Workers’ Party were meeting at the centre on Gallowgate, Newcastle city centre. The SWP had called the meeting to discuss ways to counter far-right groups.
Rebecca Gibson, prosecuting, told Newcastle Magistrates Court that the 10 men, all believed to be members of the far-right English Defence League, allegedly gathered in nearby Rosie’s Bar. She claimed they then descended on the Irish Centre, hurling abuse and attacking the doormen.
Yesterday, Anthony Burn, 47, of Lecondale Court, Leam Lane, Gateshead; Colin Burton, 27, of Wouldhave Court, South Shields; Peter Duffy, 43, of Elgin Avenue, Seaham, Durham; Michael Garriock, 22, of Gibson Street, Wallsend; Barry Keddy, 33, of Deneholm, Wallsend; Nicholas Mills, 24, of Drumaldrace, Washington; Alan Spence, 45, of Gerald Street, Benwell, Newcastle; Steven Spence, 26, of Whickham View, Benwell; and Paul Starr, 44, of Telford Street, East Howdon, all faced charges of affray and unlawful violence.
Dressed in EDL tops, sportswear and quilted jackets, with several sporting closely-shaven heads, the nine spoke only to confirm their names and addresses. Duffy and Mills denied the offences, but the rest withheld their pleas. The tenth accused, Colin Bell, 35, of St Oswald’s Road, Hebburn, had already denied the same charge when he appeared in court last week.
District Judge Stephen Earl said the case was too serious for the magistrates court and ordered it to be heard by judges at the crown court.
More than 20 supporters, many wearing St George’s flag hoodies, T-shirts and caps, packed out the courtroom for the brief hearing. Outside the court, surrounded heavily by police, some handed out pamphlets but did not mount an organised protest.
All 10 men will return to the magistrates court next month for committal.
The incident followed the Chronicle’s revelation that extremists in Gateshead had torched a copy of the Koran on September 11. The video, posted on YouTube, caused international fury.