Gosport councillor cautioned for assault on political rival after meeting

Scot Mackenzie

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POLICE have cautioned a councillor for assaulting a political rival after a council meeting.

Gosport councillor Dave Smith was arrested yesterday in connection with an attack on the town’s Lib Dem leader, Cllr Peter Chegwyn.

Injured Peter Chegwyn

Injured Peter Chegwyn

The assault took place after a meeting of Gosport Borough Council’s policy and organisation board on Wednesday night.

Cllr Chegwyn was left with minor cuts and bruises to his face, head and left arm after the fracas which was caught on CCTV.

Officers at Fareham police station yesterday cautioned Cllr Smith on a charge of assault by beating.

Cllr Smith apologised to Cllr Chegwyn last night, telling The News: ‘I regret it because I’ve never done anything like this before. I know I should not have done what I did. I’ve let myself down and my family and friends down.

‘I wish to publicly apologise to Cllr Chegwyn and I will be sending him an email to say sorry.’

Cllr Smith said he had been provoked by Cllr Chegwyn, adding: ‘He had spent the entire council meeting winding me up. I wanted to have a word with him in private afterwards but he made another derogatory remark about me and I swung for him.’

Cllr Chegwyn denied he had provoked Cllr Smith, saying: ‘I think he is trying to defend the indefensible. You can’t go around thumping people you disagree with.

‘It is unfortunate because I was friends with Dave for many years.

‘I wish him no ill will at all but I think he should now consider his position on the council, which I think is untenable. I think his reputation is in tatters.

‘I am pleased he is going to apologise to me, but he should not have done what he did.’

Cllr Smith, who represents Leesland ward, is a former Lib Dem leader of Gosport Borough Council.

He quit the party and is now leader of Gosport’s Independent group.

The leader of the Conservative-run council, Cllr Mark Hook, didn’t want to talk about the assault.

‘All I’m interested in is running the council,’ he said.