Reporter condemns Toon star's 'outrageous' attack

Oliver was pinned against wall by Robert

A football reporter who was set upon by a Premiership footballer has broken his silence on the attack, which he has condemned as "outrageous".

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s Alan Oliver, who has covered Newcastle United’s fortunes for 23 years, was pinned against a wall by Laurent Robert as he waited to grab post-match interviews at St James’s Park.

The French international winger, upset by recent criticism, came looking for Oliver after Newcastle’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham and had to be restrained by two players and a club official in the press room.

Oliver said: "Although shocked at what happened, we at the Chronicle preferred not to sensationalise the episode. I turned down countless requests for interviews from newspapers, TV and radio stations, in the hope that the whole thing would blow over.

"But Robert is reportedly denying he assaulted me. Yet the three people – Kieron Dyer, Lomana LuaLua and a club official – who pulled him off me, not to mention numerous others present, know otherwise."

Oliver said "any player coming into the press room and physically attacking a writer is outrageous", but he still wanted peace talks.

He added: "Just to show there were no hard feelings, I contacted the club trying to arrange a meeting with Robert in the hope that we could shake hands and put the incident behind us. The offer was declined by Robert.

"For what it is worth, I stand by every word I have written about Laurent Robert: the times I have praised him to the skies, and the times I have been critical of him."

Chronicle editor Paul Robertson, who described the attack as "unacceptable", added: "Sir Bobby Robson [the Newcastle manager] and Freddy Shepherd [the club chairman] are investigating the attack on Oliver and are dealing with the matter internally and that is where we want it to stay."

Robert, writing on his personal website, stated: "During my first year at Newcastle, a certain journalist saw me as a very important part of the team. This year, I don’t know what’s happened, but I’ve become a target.

"With our defeat at Bolton [on Boxing Day], he went too far with what he said. He stated that I didn’t know what it meant to wear the black and white shirt of Newcastle.

"When that sort of accusation is levelled at me, it is not on at all. I accept criticism of my performances but when someone makes that type of outburst, I see red. So I went to see him to tell him so. But contrary to what has been said, there was no attack."

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