A disabled Labour councillor has claimed he was assaulted by UKIP MEP Roger Helmer and his aides during an argument over a megaphone in Retford.
The incident took place yesterday (Monday 19th May) in the market square.
Coun David Challinor, who is registered as disabled due to an industrial accident, entered the square with nine other Labour demonstrators and approached the MEP who was on a campaign run.
He said he then began asking questions about the MEP’s expenses before Mr Helmer ‘launched himself’ at the protestors and began acting aggressively.
Coun Challinor told the Guardian: “We found Mr Helmer talking to a reporter outside a cafe in the square, and approached him with intentions of asking specific questions.”
“I had a megaphone which I have used on numerous campaigns- I used it to get Mr Helmer’s attention and ask about his expenses, which is within my democratic right.”
“I must have hit a raw nerve because he came straight for me and kept yelling, ‘Get that megaphone off him! Get that megaphone!’”
“He tried to snatch the megaphone off me and then one his aides grabbed my arm which I previously sustained an industrial injury to, causing me pain.”
But UKIP campaign manager Paul Oakden said Mr Helmer wanted to grab megaphone in an attempt to answer Coun Challinor’s questions.
He added: “Roger was visiting the area to talk to local people and he had someone shouting in his face in the street.”
“We are very disappointed that these individuals chose to behave in the way that they did. It’s a shame Mr Challinor didn’t want to have a civilised conversation with us, which is what you would expect of a councillor.”
“As far as we’re concerned, what happened isn’t an issue. We have moved on from it and are continuing with our campaign.”
After the incident, MP for Bassetlaw John Mann wrote on Twitter: ‘Roger Helmer’s response to questions about his expenses is to attack a protestor in Retford.”
“He broke off press interview to lunge across precinct at expenses protestor in Retford this afternoon.”
“Two years ago [Coun Challinor] nearly lost his arm in the steelworks, today he faced Roger Helmer’s anger at being questioned on expenses.”
“Police have requested and been sent footage of the Helmer incident.”
Mr Helmer wrote on Twitter shortly afterwards: “Sorry to spoil a good rumour, but I’m afraid I have not been arrested by the police.”
“I suppose I should thank the Rent-a-Mob crowd for generating far more coverage for my Retford visit than I could have done.”