The mayor of Bury St Edmunds was arrested for what police called a “violent assault” on security staff at a night club in the town, but the case didn’t come to court. Instead, the mayor was let off with a caution.
During the evening of Saturday 4 March, Matt Tate and a colleague were on duty as security staff at the town’s Gym Bar. A couple at a nearby table appeared to be having an altercation with another woman, and both security staff recognised the man as Councillor Peter Thompson, the mayor of Bury St Edmunds.
Mr Tate and his colleague went over to speak to them to help de-fuse the situation. It appeared that Cllr Thompson had been drinking, and he told them both to “F*ck off”, accusing them of working illegally. (The conversation is recorded by both security recorders.)
“Do you know who I am? I’m the mayor!”
Mr Tate told the mayor he was activating his security camera, for the safety of all concerned, and Cllr Thompson again told him to “F*ck off”. Both Cllr Thompson and his wife were becoming volubly irate, and the two security men began to escort them from the club. The body cams both record Cllr Thompson as shouting: “Do you know who I am? I’m the mayor!”
At this point another man joined the struggle and, while Mr Tate was assisting his colleague, Cllr Thompson punched him twice on the back of the head and put his arm around his throat and began to choke him.
Once Mr Tate had escaped and pinned Cllr Thompson to the floor, the police were called. When they arrived, Cllr Thompson was still “kicking off” and he was immediately arrested. Three different sources claim that Cllr Thompson was shouting: “You can’t arrest me, I’m the mayor!”
“Violent assault” leads to only a caution
Cllr Thompson was bailed twice by Suffolk Police whilst they investigated. A senior police officer told Mr Tate, after having viewed his body cam, that the incident amounted to “a violent assault”.
Yet the case didn’t come to court. Instead, and to Mr Tate’s disgust and astonishment, Cllr Thompson was given a conditional discharge. Was this unusual?
“Very, very unusual,” says Mr Tate. “I’ve had far less done to me with far more serious consequences.”
How does Mr Tate explain the leniency of Cllr Thompson’s sentence?
“I assume he has friends in high places.”
When the incident first became known last week, Mr Pecksniff’s Diary reported that as a result of the assault, Cllr Thompson had been suspended from all three Conservative Associations of which he is a member: West Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk County. He is a Tory councillor at all three levels and is a candidate for re-election to both West Suffolk District Council and Bury St Edmunds Town Council next week.
Mr Tate is a decorated army veteran, injured by a bomb blast whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2012. By a coincidence, last year he lay the wreath on behalf of his regiment, the 1st Anglian, just after Mayor Thompson lay one on behalf of the town.
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