Freelance fury as alleged attacker escapes charges

By Sarah Lagan

A Brighton photographer is outraged after a former policeman he claims assaulted him avoided criminal charges because the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence.

Eddie Mitchell, who was freelancing for The Argus in Brighton, is referring the case to the head of Sussex CPS for review and has vowed he will take the matter further if the same decision is taken a second time.

He is also taking advice as to whether he has sufficient evidence to bring a civil action and win damages for alleged assault or negligence.

Mitchell claims that when he and staff reporter Andrew Dickenson called at a local councillor’s house, her partner David Freeman came to the door and told the reporter to "leave before I cut your bollocks off" before assaulting Mitchell in his car and causing around £800 of damage to the vehicle.

The paper had previously run stories about Freeman’s partner, Lewes district council leader, councillor Ann de Vecchi, and her opposition to plans for Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s new stadium in Falmer.

Mitchell said: "I’ve got photographic evidence. There are two witnesses including myself and I was left with bumps and bruises all over my head and face. But the CPS in Sussex said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

"The CPS are saying he didn’t even cause a public order offence. I am amazed and worried this might let people believe it’s OK to attack journalists trying to do their job."

In a comment piece (below left) The Argus said: "In view of the evidence available… we are surprised that the authorities did not consider it sufficient to bring the matter before magistrates at all. When a former senior police officer is involved, it would seem especially important to clear the air."

Freeman would not comment to the paper on the matter.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for Sussex Sarah Gallagher told Press Gazette: "Following an investigation by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service received a file of evidence and a request for advice as to whether any criminal proceedings should be brought. The Crown Prosecution Service advised that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

"As is normal procedure, when an interested party requests further consideration of the decision, the file will be forwarded to me for that purpose."

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