Marie Rimmer tells of her shock at assault charge

Labour MP Marie Rimmer leaves Glasgow Sheriff Court, she is accused of assaulting Patricia McLeish outside a polling station on the day of Scotland's independence referendum

Labour MP Marie Rimmer leaves Glasgow Sheriff Court, she is accused of assaulting Patricia McLeish outside a polling station on the day of Scotland's independence referendum

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A Labour MP has told a court she was “shocked” to be accused of kicking a Yes campaigner outside a polling station on the day of the Scottish independence referendum.

Marie Rimmer, 69, had travelled from St Helens to Glasgow to help her party campaign in the final days of the referendum and was stationed at Shettleston community centre on the day of the vote where she handed out leaflets opposite independence activists.

MP Marie Rimmer leaving court

MP Marie Rimmer leaving court

She went on trial earlier this year accused of kicking Patricia McLeish outside the community centre on September 18 2014.

The former councillor, who was elected MP for St Helens South and Whiston last year, denies the charge and was cleared of a second charge of acting in a threatening or abusive manner on Tuesday.

Giving evidence at Glasgow Sheriff Court in her defence, Rimmer said she had struck up a conversation with Ms McLeish and a colleague after noticing she was carrying a Unison bag.

Rimmer said: “I asked if was she involved in Unison as a member or an officer.

“She said she worked in local government and I said ‘we’ve all had it tough’ (through budget cuts) and it seemed to go wrong from there.”

The MP said she was called a “red Tory” and her party accused of “wrecking the NHS” by Ms McLeish, who voiced her support for militant councillors in Liverpool in the 1980s.

Rimmer said she “wrongly assumed” Ms McLeish was a Nationalist but was told that she in fact a socialist who supported Solidarity.

The accused told the court: “She came towards me and was generally angry. I said ‘you shouldn’t let politics do this to you, make you bitter’.

“She responded; ‘you’d be bitter if you were brought up in the east end of Glasgow’.”

The accused said Ms McLeish was only yards away from her and turned to walk away before quickly turning back and saying Rimmer had kicked her.

The MP said: “I was shocked. I said ‘I never touched you’.”

Rimmer said there was no accidental bump or any contact.

Shortly after the incident, Rimmer said a crowd turned up and she heard someone say: “Get on to Tommy, he’ll know what to do.”

Rimmer said she was urged to leave the polling station by police but was later contacted by an officer and asked to return when she was arrested.

When questioned by fiscal depute Adele MacDonald, Rimmer maintained her position.

She said: “I would never dream of hurting anyone or kicking anyone.

“I wasn’t aggressive, anything but. If anyone was aggressive, it was Ms McLeish against me.”

The trial in front of Sheriff Kenneth Hogg started in April but has faced a number of adjournments.

When giving evidence earlier this year, Ms McLeish said she did nothing to provoke the alleged assault.

The Unison shop steward and Glasgow City Council worker told Glasgow Sheriff Court she was handing out Yes campaign leaflets at the centre entrance at about 12.30pm when Rimmer approached her twice, standing less than a foot from her face, staring at her without speaking.

Ms McLeish said: “I thought it was odd. I thought it was quite intimidating behaviour for somebody to do.

“You don’t expect that at a polling station, you don’t expect anywhere. In fact, you don’t expect it from an adult.”

The trial continues on Wednesday.