A CHANCE encounter with a canvassing Labour activist landed a Dewsbury man in court, saw his life-savings seized by police and left him on the verge of suicide.
David Huntington, 61, of Syke Street, Earlsheaton, was driving through Staincliffe with a friend on local elections voting day, May 2, when he saw far left Labour member Alexander Ascough – a man who was thrown out of a Tracy Brabin Q&A at Batley Irish National Club last year after stirring up trouble.
Mr Huntington simply stopped and approached Ascough to ask why he was being so insulting and abusive to him on social media.
The day ended with armed North-East Counter Terrorism police raiding his home and him being dragged into custody wearing just his dressing gown, after now councillor, but then Batley West candidate Yusra Hussain and a friend rang 999 and claimed Mr Ascough had been attacked by three EDL or National Front thugs.
That evidence was heard at Kirklees Magistrates Court on October 31, where Mr Huntington was cleared of assault.
In fact, Mr Huntington – who considered standing for the BNP over 12 years ago but was never a party member – was alone with his friend Ian Farr, who never left their vehicle or took part in any pursuit, because he has a prosthetic leg and is disabled.
But the assault charge was only the start of Mr Huntington’s woes.
When he was bailed from Huddersfield Police Station, he was immediately re-arrested over cash police had found in his house, on suspicion of it being proceeds of crime.
The former Isle of Man TT racer had recently been selling his collection of prized motorbikes to settle monies owed to his estranged wife – but despite providing police with proof of the sales, after more than seven months they are still holding his money, despite no offences being alleged, let alone charges put to him.
“It’s going to be a really tough Christmas,” he told The Press. “The rubbish with the trial, this seizing of mine and my family’s money, it’s put a massive strain on me – on all of us. I’ve been at my wits’ end.”
Mr Huntington said he approached Ascough on Staincliffe Hall Road to ask if he was the same man posting on social media. “I held out my phone with his picture on it, to ask if it was him, but he took a swing at me and ran away,” he said.
Ascough took refuge in a garden on Bunkers Lane. But whereas Mr Huntington said they just exchanged words over the gate, and he left when a car arrived carrying Labour members – including Coun Hussain and Kirklees leader Coun Shabir Pandor – Ascough’s version was that he’d been pursued by three men, one of them filming the incident with Huntington attempting to hit him “six to eight times” over the fence, bruising his face.
In his police statement, Ascough described the fence as being about 5ft 5ins high, and his attacker as 5ft 9 or 10ins tall. Mr Huntington is just 5ft 3ins and is unable to work owing to health problems.
Batley West Labour candidate Yusra Hussain had arranged to meet Ascough and arrived with Coun Pandor – who had rung Ascough – plus supporters Hiba Mukhtar and Mike Wilson. One of the women then phoned 999 and a recording played to court heard one of them claiming he been attacked by “three EDL or National Front” thugs – although they saw no confrontation themselves.
Citing the “conflicting” evidence of the witnesses, magistrates threw the case out.
“I’ve been absolutely desperate,” Mr Huntington told The Press. “People were gossiping about why me and Ian were arrested. There were all kinds of rumours going around. I happened to have the money for my bikes in the house – where’s the crime in that?
“But I haven’t been able to settle things with my family and it’s like banging your head against a brick wall with the authorities.”
Mr Ascough’s court statement said that he has serious mental health problems, is disabled and that after the encounter he was going to “resign from my position” and stop his political activities due to feeling vulnerable.
He concluded: “When I was getting chased I thought about the Jo Cox incident and I thought that I might get stabbed. She was a friend and a colleague and it brought it all back.”
A Counter Terrorism Policing North East Spokesperson said: “A 61-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of Money Laundering Offences on May 3 2019. He was later released under investigation. Enquiries are ongoing and the subject of the investigation has been updated throughout.”