Nigel Farage milkshake protester ordered to pay compensation
Paul Crowther said he now regrets throwing the banana and salted caramel milkshake over the Brexit Party leader.
A man who threw milkshake over Nigel Farage has been ordered to pay the Brexit Party leader compensation following the “act of crass stupidity”.
Paul Crowther, whose “politically motivated” act cost him his job and led to threats being made to his family, was told by the district judge that “actions have consequences”.
He said he now regretted throwing a £5.25 Five Guys banana and salted caramel milkshake over the ex-Ukip leader in Newcastle city centre, telling police it was a moment of madness.
The married former Sky employee has been dismissed following the incident, North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told.
He admitted assault and criminal damage to a £239 lapel microphone on Mr Farage’s suit.
District Judge Bernard Begley, who told Crowther it was an “act of crass stupidity motivated by your political views” and “by some desire to gain some attention and notoriety”, ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
He said CCTV showed that Crowther found it funny and it happened during a busy lunchtime in full view of the media and public.
He added: “I am told you have lost your job as a result and threats of one form or another have been directed to your family.
“Perhaps you should have thought about that possibility before you acted as you did, if not for yourself then for your family.
“Actions have consequences.”
After the prosecution suggested Crowther should pay compensation to have the suit cleaned, the judge ordered him to pay Mr Farage £350 compensation. He must carry out 150 hours unpaid work and pay a further £170 costs.
James Long, prosecuting, said: “I suppose for the split second the attack took place, Mr Farage would not know whether it was a harmless liquid or something, in this day and age, far more sinister.”
He said it was clear from a Facebook posting before the incident that Crowther intended to throw milkshake on the politician.
A friend replied saying: “I hope you return to the office sans milkshake.”
It took 20 minutes for a police van to take him away after he was arrested, and Crowther was interviewed by journalists, including by the Press Association.
At the time he justified his actions, saying he did not regret it and that “the bile and racism” spouted by Mr Farage was far worse than having milkshake poured on him, the court heard.
He later told police when he was interviewed that it was a “moment of madness”, “a loss of control” and he watched himself do it.
Brian Hegarty, defending, said there was a long history of protesters throwing food at politicians going back hundreds if not thousands of years, although the items may have changed from fish, to fruit, to eggs and on to milkshakes.
He said Crowther now regretted his lunchtime actions, saying: “The defendant has had cause to reflect and, having done so, he would say he wished he would not have acted as he did.”
Crowther, who has an interest in politics, believed in democracy and did not want to be seen to be trying to silence people with whom he disagreed, the court was told.
Mr Hegarty said Mr Farage had identified his client as a “radical Remainer” but he would dispute that claim and he believes the 2016 referendum result should be respected, although Crowther thought we should leave under different terms from those suggested by the Brexit Party leader.
Since the incident he has suffered from repeated threats of violence and has had regular police checks to his address in Throckley, Newcastle, the judge was told.
He has been dismissed from his job and threats have been made to a dog charity where he volunteered, the court heard.
Mr Hegarty said: “Ordinarily a man of his position would receive a caution.
“The fact is, it is said to be a politically motivated incident which has caused him to appear before this court and caused him to lose his good name.”
Mr Hegarty said the attack was not premeditated for long and pointed out the £5.25 price of the milkshake and that there were cheaper options nearby that he could have gone to if it was a planned incident.
A GoFundMe page entitled Get Paul Crowther his Milkshake Money Back was closed after it reached £1,705. He did not speak to reporters as he left court.
Speaking from Parliament, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said Theresa May condemned any attacks on politicians.
He said: “She set out her views that no politician should be subject to any sort of intimidation, harassment or abuse, but sentencing is obviously rightly a matter for the courts.”