Belfast Telegraph

Maginnis abandons road-rage appeal

House of Lords peer Ken Maginnis has dropped his appeal against his conviction for assaulting a man in a road-rage incident.

The former Ulster Unionist MP was fined £200 after he was found guilty of grabbing Keith Kirk, 21, by the arm, swearing and threatening to punch him in his home town of Dungannon, Co Tyrone, last summer.

Afterwards he vowed to go to jail rather than pay the penalty.

But today he said he had now decided not to challenge the court ruling.

In a statement, Lord Maginnis said: "I firmly believe and maintain I have been the victim of a grossly unfair and unnecessary prosecution.

"However, on the advice of my lawyers, I have decided not to proceed with my appeal which, however justified, will only serve to highlight a case that has already received disproportionate attention and has become a distraction to my work which has always been in total support of the proper and fair administration of justice.

"Although I had been prepared to go to prison rather than pay any fine, an anonymous benefactor has insisted on discharging the financial penalty in recognition of 'your many years in support of justice, the police and the Courts'."

The 75-year-old was found guilty at Dungannon Magistrates' Court in August of assaulting Mr Kirk by seizing him by the arm and threatening to punch him after becoming enraged at him honking his car horn.

The peer, who admitted calling Mr Kirk a "yellow bellied bastard", had denied the charge.

But District Judge John Meehan said he was satisfied that the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.

He fined Lord Maginnis £200 and ordered him to pay a further £200 in compensation to Mr Kirk.

Mr Kirk claimed the peer had pulled out of a junction in front of him without looking, causing him to brake suddenly.

He said he honked his horn - an act he alleged prompted Lord Maginnis to get out of his vehicle and march back to confront him through the wound-down window.

Mr Kirk claimed Lord Maginnis grabbed his arm and held his other fist in the air, threatening a punch.

The prosecution conceded it was a non-injury assault and that the politician had not struck Mr Kirk.

Judge Meehan said he had taken account of Lord Maginnis's years of public service in determining the punishment.

Outside court, the peer said he had already lodged an appeal.

"I am obviously not letting it rest here," he said.

"One might say 'What's a couple of hundred pounds?' but this is my reputation. And I am appealing it, I can assure you I am appealing it."

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